In Eosinophilic esophagitis, a type of white blood cell (eosinophil) builds up in the lining of the esophagus. This buildup is a reaction to foods, allergens or acid reflux and can inflame or injure the esophageal tissue. Damaged esophageal tissue can lead to difficulty swallowing or cause food to get caught/stuck when swallowing.

Eosinophilic esophagitis is a chronic immune system disease. It is considered a major cause of digestive system (gastrointestinal) illness.



Symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis in adults include:


  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Food impaction
  • Chest pain (centrally located) that does not respond to antacids
  • Persistent heartburn
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • No response to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) medication
  • Backflow of undigested food (regurgitation)


Symptoms in children include:


  • Difficulty feeding
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Food impaction
  • No response to GERD medication
  • Failure to thrive (poor growth, malnutrition and weight loss)



Eosinophilic esophagitis is an allergic reaction in which the lining of the esophagus reacts to allergens such as food or pollen.

Eosinophils are a normal type of white blood cells present in the digestive tract but in eosinophilic esophagitis they multiply in the esophagus. The eosinophils produce a protein that causes inflammation to the esophageal tissue, which can lead to narrowing, scarring and formation of excessive fibrous tissue in the lining of the esophagus.

People with eosinophilic esophagitis may also have food allergies, environmental allergies, asthma, atopic dermatitis or chronic respiratory disease.


Risk factors

Risk factors for eosinophilic esophagitis include:


  • Climate: cold or dry climate
  • Season: more likely diagnosed between spring and fall
  • Sex: more common in males than females
  • Family history: family members with the disease increase the risk of a positive diagnosis
  • Allergies and asthma
  • Age: originally a childhood disease but now it is common in adults as well



Eosinophilic esophagitis can lead to the following complications:


  • Scarring and narrowing of the esophagus
  • Damage to the esophagus (tearing or perforation in the esophageal lining tissue)