Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) (pronounced as e-o-sin-o-FILL-ik uh-sof-uh-JIE-tis), is a swallowing disorder that affects the esophagus, the tube that leads from the throat to the stomach. EoE is an allergic response that happens when eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) collect in the esophagus. Food can be a trigger, as can pollen.
Symptoms in children include vomiting, weight loss, or “failing to thrive” (in an infant). Reflux, difficulty swallowing, and chest pain are other symptoms – especially in adults and older children. The condition is difficult to understand as symptoms can change, go away, come back, and even occur hours, days, or weeks after eating an allergen.
EoE is often diagnosed after a long process that eventually leads a person to the allergist. The only way to diagnose EoE is through an upper endoscopy, where a camera is inserted down the esophagus and biopsies are taken. Skin tests for food (or pollen) allergens are usually conducted. Like other food allergies, there are some more common allergens, but it can be caused by any food.In addition to avoiding the allergenic food, other dietary, medication, and experimental treatments are used to treat EoE.
What is an Endoscopy?
Endoscopy is a test that takes pictures of your esophagus, stomach and small intestine. These 3 areas are also known as your digestive tract. Scopy means a scope, this helps the doctor to find things, it uses a tiny camera with a light that looks around and takes pictures.
Why do I need to have an Endoscopy?
The doctor needs to see inside your esophagus, stomach and small intestine to see how it is working and to find out what they need to do to help you. An X-Ray cannot see inside these body parts, so an endoscopy has to be done.
What does an Endoscopy look like?
An endoscopy has a tiny video camera (scope) and a light at the end of a small very flexible tube, there is also a computer and TV screen. The light helps the doctor to see inside your body. The video camera can take a video or pictures of inside your esophagus, stomach and small intestine. These pictures will help the doctor to see what is happening inside your body. There is also a bed that is beside the computer where you will lie down.
What happens when I have an Endoscopy?
A porter will come to bring you to the special room to have the endoscopy. A nurse and gastroenterologist (a doctor who is the expert about your digestive tract) will greet you and explain what will happen.
The nurse will give you a gown to wear, this looks like a backward housecoat, you may already be wearing one. The nurse will help you to get on the bed, she will also tell you to lie on your left side; this is the best way for you to lie down for the test. The nurse may put a blanket over you to keep you warm and make sure you are covered. The nurse will also put a plastic clip onto your finger. This clip does not hurt and it glows red. This clip is called an oximeter and it measures how much oxygen you have in your blood. You will also have a blood pressure cuff put on your arm to measure how fast or slow your blood is moving around your body. The blood pressure cuff will go on and give your arm a little squeeze and then off, relaxing it. This happens a few times during the test.
The nurse will spray a special medicine in your throat, this medicine helps the sides and back of you throat to feel numb so that you will not really feel the tube in you throat.
The doctor will put on hospital gloves. Then he will take the scope and he will place it gently into your mouth and slide it down your esophagus to your stomach. As it is sliding down your esophagus, the doctor will ask you to swallow. You may feel that this is hard, but it will help the tube to go down so that the pictures can be taken. This will feel uncomfortable, but the test will not last long, usually it can be 5 minutes to 15 minutes.
While the doctor is looking in your esophagus and stomach, he will also be taking pictures of it. He may also take a tiny piece of it to look at it more closely, this is called a biopsy. It is important to remember to relax and lie still. Once the test is done, the scope will be removed.
Someone like your mom or dad can stay in the room with you during the test. When it is over, you will rest for a little while and then you will be brought back to your room.
What will the Endoscopy feel like?
The endoscopy will feel uncomfortable when the scope first goes into your mouth and starts to go down your throat. You may feel like you have something stuck in your throat or that you might throw up.
Since the tube is so small, you will still be able to breathe normally. All these feelings are normal, this happens to everyone who has this test. Remember that you will be feeling sleepy during the test..
Preparing for the test
Your nurse will give you the information you need to help you get ready to have your endoscopy. You will be told that you will not be able to eat or drink anything before the test.
If you have any questions about the test, always ask!