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 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

What Are the Symptoms of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Diseases?

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.

How Are Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Diseases Diagnosed?

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 Exude

Rings

Furrowing

Treatment

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.