What is allergic esophagitis?

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Lawrence S. Friedman, MD
Gastroenterology
Eosinophilic (allergic) esophagitis is a disease characterized by the presence of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, in the wall of the esophagus. Eosinophils, which are associated with allergic reactions, stimulate inflammation. One symptom of the condition is heartburn, although episodes of dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), the feeling of food or pills sticking in the esophagus, is more characteristic. The disease often occurs in children and young adults, many of whom also have allergies, or asthma.

A first-line treatment is to try to eliminate under the direction of an allergist, the foods most likely to cause allergies such as peanuts, other types of nuts, shellfish, and wheat or any other food that has caused an allergic reaction in the past. Eosinophilic esophagitis often responds to a course of the steroid fluticasone (Flovent) taken by mouth, although in some cases symptoms may also improve with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) such as omeprazole (Prilosec) or lansoprazole (Prevacid).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.