Deadly Food Allergy
Eosinophilic Oesophagitis is an inflammation of the oesophagus. Although the exact substance that causes the allergic reaction is unknown, people who suffer from this condition have an unusual build-up of eosinophils (a kind of white blood cell) in the oesophagus. This results in dysphagia. The oesophagus has a severely reduced ability to stretch and accommodate mouthfuls of swallowed food. This is not only due to the presence of so many eosinophils, but also the result of scaring that occurs in the wall of the oesophagus. Thus, solid foods (particularly solid meats) have difficulty passing through the oesophagus.
Researchers don’t know whether the allergen is inhaled or ingested. This extreme allergy affects both children and adults, but is most commonly found among young boys and men. In children, the most common symptoms are abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, coughing, and failure to thrive.
The current treatments for Eosinophilic Oesophagitis include gentle oesophageal dilatation and medications. However, there is some evidence that diets which remove protein-rich foods may eradicate the eosinophils and reverse the oesophagitis. Doctors have used elimination diets to define what the allergy-inciting foods might be. If one or two foods can be found that are responsible for the allergy, a near-normal diet can be resumed, and the need for medications can be eliminated.