How Eosinophilic Esophagitis can have a huge impact on the quality of life in AdultsEosinophilic Esophagitis (EE) is a serious illness effecting an individuals quality of life and in more serious cases, resulting in invasive medical interventions. Most often discovered after someone begins to experience difficulty swallowing, this disorder is classified by irritation, inflammation, and sometimes swelling of the esophagus. Though the disease is not limited to a specific age range, diagnosed cases of Eosinophilic Esophagitis in adults are on the rise. This type of esophagitis is always the result of an excessive build-up of eosinophils in the tissues of the esophagus. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell normally associated with immune system responses to parasitic infections. They combat invasive parasites through the release of toxins and special destructive enzymes. When larger than normal quantities of these cells accumulate, the toxins they contain can have damaging effects on the surrounding tissues. This build-up is thought to be closely related to an auto-immune system misinterpretation of allergens in the body. Most often, Eosinophilic Esophagitis in adults is diagnosed in patients with histories of multiple allergic reactions, often serious reactions, and usually to food related allergens. The trouble swallowing which often leads esophagitis sufferers to seek help is caused by a number of eosinophilic factors. Sometimes difficulty swallowing is due simply to the excessive numbers of eosinophil cells in the esophagus. These cells attach to the tissues of the esophageal wall and when present in large enough numbers can create the perception of an obstruction in the throat that is most aptly felt when swallowing. Difficulty swallowing can also be caused by actual damage to the esophageal tissues. Irritation and inflammation can cause ridges, fissures, or rings of impacted tissue that are easily felt by the patient and result in trouble swallowing solid foods. Over time, patients with this illness will experience varied levels of reaction, likely dependent on the introduction of allergens to which the eosinophils are responding. Each episode of increased inflammation can lead to tissue damage and scarring causing not only short term discomfort but long-term trouble swallowing that can only be temporarily alleviated through a medical procedure designed to break away the physical obstructions. Though most adults with eosinophilic esophagitis seek treatment after prolonged periods where they have trouble swallowing, Eosinophilic Esophagitis has a wide range of symptoms including:
- abdominal pain
- esophageal pain when swallowing (odynophagia)
- chest pain in and around the breast bone
- weight loss (or inability to add weight)
- decreased appetite
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