Eosinophilic Esophagitis in Children

Recognizing and understanding Eosinophilic Esophagitis in Children

Eosinophilic Esophagitis is a disease that directly affects the esophagus, a muscular tube that is required to transport food to the stomach from the throat. This ailment often occurs when there is allergy related inflammation in the esophagus. Typically, Gastroesophageal Reflux disease and Eosinophilic Esophagitis have similar symptoms, and they can be told apart by whether or not there are a high number of eosinophils (white blood cells) present in the esophagus.

Usually, these white blood cells are not in the esophagus, therefore if a person has managed to accumulate a substantial amount of them in this area, they are very likely to have an allergic reaction to them. Eosinophilic Esophagitis is a result of this reaction, and although it is still a little known disease, many of those who contract it are indeed children. There are several symptoms that can crop up if your child is infected with Eosinophilic Esophagitis, but they vary based on the child’s age.

If you have an infant, you may have a pretty tough time deciphering whether or not they are showing signs of Eosinophilic Esophagitis, because they are incapable of describing how they’re feeling. However, there are certain things to look out for if you have an infant who may be suffering from Eosinophilic Esophagitis.

Infants often vomit exceedingly when they have Eosinophilic Esophagitis. This vomiting can occur throughout the day, and it can also happen with every meal. Vomiting is a symptom present in infants that can also derive from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and it can often be very challenging to tell the difference between the two ailments. The best way to tell whether an infant is suffering from Eosinophilic Esophagitis or GERD is if they respond to the GERD medication; if they do not, then they more than likely have Eosinophilic Esophagitis.

There are other very subtle symptoms that can be present in infants who have Eosinophilic Esophagitis such as slow weight gain, chronic cough, or refusal to eat. If your infant is showing any of these symptoms, be sure to contact a physician immediately. Infants typically contract GERD more often than Eosinophilic Esophagitis, but either way, it is imperative that you consult with their doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis in children varies from Eosinophilic Esophagitis in infants. Toddlers and small children can describe how they are feeling to a parent and/or doctor, unlike an infant. Symptoms of Eosinophilic Esophagitis in children can include excessive vomiting, poor weight gain, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), and pain accompanied with swallowing (odynophagia).

Eosinophilic Esophagitis in older children and teenagers also includes recurrent vomiting, dysphagia and odynophagia. However, the difference in symptoms in older children and teenagers is that they often go through impaction; this is when food becomes stuck in the esophagus. Eosinophilic Esophagitis in children often results in food bolus moving uncomfortably, slowly down their esophagi, thus causing the children to drink more liquids to aid in swallowing. Unfortunately, this often leads to the child vomiting up the food or food impaction. If food does indeed become stuck in a child’s throat, a surgeon will need to remove the bolus.

Other symptoms of Eosinophilic Esophagitis in children include: considerable weight loss, cough, chest pain, heartburn, and/or epigastric (upper abdominal) pain.

If your child, or a child you know is showing any of these symptoms, it is of the utmost importance that you take them to a physician immediately. They may indeed be suffering from Eosinophilic Esophagitis, and only a physician will be able to tell for sure. The faster you seek treatment for your child, the sooner they will be relieved of any discomfort they have had to endure.

For more detailed information check out the list of topics about eosinophilic esophagitis.

You can also ask questions and communicate with others about the disorder by becoming a member of the free Eosinophilic Esophagitis Forum.