Understanding Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) in Children
What is Eosinophilic Esophagitis
Eosinophilic Esophagitis, or EoE for short, is a disease in which eosinophils (allergy cells) build up in the esophagus linings causing narrowing of the esophagus. It’s more common than you think.
Country Singer Trace Adkins’ daughter, Brianna, suffered a life-threatening allergic reaction to peanut butter when she was nine months old. Trace remains committed to Supporting Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) and their annual Walk for Food Allergy.
Creator and Founder of Potty Train with Pinky Bear, Toni Roberts, knows firsthand how dangerous EoE can be for a child.
“Our 13-year-old grandson, Lane, has EOE. Before being diagnosed, Lane always had issues with vomiting and having a great dislike for certain foods.
“At first glance, he had all the symptoms of acid reflux and was treated as such. As he grew older, he complained about food getting stuck in his throat and difficulty swallowing.
“Lane’s pediatrician sent him to a Gastrointestinal (GI) doctor that performed Lane’s first scope. His eosinophil numbers came back extremely high, and his treatment regimen began.
“In addition to EoE, Lane has food allergies. If he eats peas or pea protein, his tongue and throat start to itch and swell. For this reason, he carries an EpiPen.
We are blessed to have this under control. Lane’s mom has been on top of things since day one. It truly bothers her that Lane dealt with this for so long, but none of us knew the condition even existed.”
Infants with EoE
You’ve read all the parenting books and took the classes, yet no parent can prepare for every situation. It can be upsetting when parents can’t figure out the cause of their newborn’s discomfort.
Infants with Eosinophilic Esophagitis may have symptoms that mimic reflux but are actually EoE symptoms.
- Increased frequent spit-ups
- Arching back or crying during meals
- Wheezing or coughing
- Decrease in wet or dirty diapers
School-aged Children with EoE
Some children may never completely outgrow their EoE symptoms and will require medical monitoring for life.
They may also have difficulty swallowing, but this may be hard for them to explain. Symptoms may include:
- Regurgitation or vomiting after a meal
- Recurrent stomach or chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing dry or dense foods
The good news is that children adapt quickly to new ideas, so teaching them to listen to their bodies will give them the confidence they’ll need to manage their symptoms. Many children with EoE grow up leading healthy, everyday lives.
Patients with Eosinophilic Esophagitis may develop adaptive behaviors that mask symptoms, making EoE challenging to diagnose. For instance, if a child is adamant about having their sippy cup before eating, that may be a sign they are having issues swallowing food.
Diagnosis and Treatments of EoE
An Endoscopy is the only way to diagnose EoE positively. Afterward, your child’s care team will develop a treatment regimen that may include prescription steroids to control inflammation and suppress eosinophils may be necessary.
Your child will most likely have a whole team of doctors, each of whom has a specific role in their treatment. Specialists might include a nutritionist, gastroenterologist, allergist, and pediatrician. You will have the support you need to help your childcare for his EoE.
What is The Six Food Elimination Diet
This diet eliminates the top six food allergens that may trigger EoE symptoms. You’ll then introduce these foods back into your child’s diet one or two at a time. After each segment, an EGD is performed for comparison. Although this diet is most popular for finding triggers, there are other options your care team may consider.
EoE Support for Families
Parents may feel guilty for not realizing the cause of their child’s discomfort sooner. It’s okay not to know the answers. Ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure.
- Ask your doctor about local support options so you can connect with other parents who have children with EoE.
- EoE Home has a ton of up-to-date information on research studies, diet therapy, and more.
- Facebook Groups are a great way to share information with other parents on EoE.
Disclaimer: Please remember to always talk with your doctor before trying unsolicited medical advice from anyone, even well-meaning friends. The only advice that is valid for your child is that of their care team.
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