• By Jason Howland

Mayo Clinic Minute: Treating eosinophilic esophagitis

December 20, 2018

Everyone experiences the choking feeling of food getting caught in his or her esophagus occasionally, but roughly 1 in 2,000 people experiences it constantly. For those people, it's caused by a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis [EE-oh-sin-ah-fill-ick] [ah-soff-ah-JITE-iss], or EOE.

Doctors didn't fully identify EOE until around 2000 and didn't start regularly diagnosing it in adult patients until around 2006. Since then, EOE has become more common.

There are short-term treatments for EOE like steroid pills, but Mayo Clinic researchers are seeking ways to treat the condition long term with dietary changes.

In this Mayo Clinic Minute, Dr. Jeffrey Alexander, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist and hepatologist, explains why EOE is actually an allergic condition that could bring promise for better treatment.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (0:59) is in the downloads at the end of the post.
Please ‘Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network.’ Read the script.

Almost everyone has taken too big of a bite of something while eating and had a hard time swallowing it. But roughly 1 in 2,000 people has a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis, or EOE, that causes it to happen constantly.

"They can't vomit it up. They can't wash it down," says Dr. Alexander. "They end up in the emergency room to have it removed."

According to Dr. Alexander, it's actually a food allergy. And it's becoming more common, but it is treatable. He says most people respond to a special steroid that's swallowed, but he says that's a temporary fix. To improve things long-term, he is researching a special diet that eliminates the most allergic foods, then slowly adds them back in to hopefully figure out what specifically is causing each patient's EOE.

"I tell people we're in the second inning of this ballgame," says Dr. Alexander. "These may not even be the right six foods. But we took out the ones that historically had the most allergies, which is fish, nuts, eggs, soy, wheat and milk."

And while EOE isn't life-threatening, Dr. Alexander says he's hoping a simple change in diet can improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people.

Please login or register to post a reply.