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Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Diseases

Eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases (EGIDs) are chronic, inflammatory diseases characterized by an elevated number of eosinophils in one or more areas in the digestive system.

Eosinophils Eosinophils are white blood cells in the body that are part of the immune system and help the body fight off infections. Increased numbers of eosinophils in the digestive tract can become a problem and create inflammation.

EGID Types

  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) – Increased number of eosinophils in the esophagus and the most common of the EGIDs
  • Eosinophilic Gastritis (EG) – Increased number of eosinophils in the stomach
  • Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis (EGE) – Increased number of eosinophils in the stomach and small intestine
  • Eosinophilic Colitis (EC) – Increased number of eosinophils in the colon

Sym​​ptoms

The symptoms of an EGID vary widely and depend on the affected area of the digestive tract. Symptoms include: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Poor weight gain
  • Feeding aversion
  • Diarrhea
Older children can experience symptoms of difficulty swallowing or food can become stuck in the esophagus, which is also known as a food impaction.  

Dia​gnosis

Currently the only way to confirm the diagnosis of an EGID is by having an endoscopy/colonoscopy with biopsies. Biopsies are small pieces of tissue that are taken and reviewed under the microscope by a pathologist. During an endoscopy, a flexible tube with a camera is inserted through the mouth to allow the gastroenterologist to look inside the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). 

A colonoscopy is similar to an endoscopy but the tube is inserted through the anus and looks inside the rectum, colon and ileum (part of the small intestine). The visual appearance of eosinophilic esophagitis is often seen in features such as those shown here. 

 
Granular White Exudate Furrowing
Granular White Exudate

​Rings
​Furrowing

Treat​ment

Treatment consists of food elimination, elemental diet or medications. Typically an endoscopy with biopsies is repeated six to eight weeks after being treated to establish that the treatment was effective and the disease is in remission. Learn more about food elimination diets.​

Learn more about EGIDs in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition (Digestive Disorders)​ and the Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Diseases Program.