Navigating Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE): Ava's Journey to Wellness

Pittsburgh Dietitian Blog Posts
May 13, 2024

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) may not be a household term, but for those who grapple with its challenges, it's a daily reality. Meet Ava, a resilient individual who's graciously shared her EoE journey with us. Through her experience, we'll shed light on this chronic condition, its symptoms, diagnosis, and the crucial support system needed for effective management.

“In 10th grade, I knew something was wrong inside my body and I finally needed to get to the bottom of it. To put the feeling I felt in my stomach into words, I describe it like a sharp pain or knife feeling stabbing inside. Not pleasant. After having to go home from school often and feeling like I couldn't stand up straight from the pain I was feeling, I decided to make an appointment with an allergist and GI doc (before I knew what dietitians were).” 

EoE, often referred to as eosinophilic esophagitis, is a condition characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the esophagus due to an excessive buildup of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell. For Ava and many others, consuming foods they are allergic to triggers this immune response, leading to discomfort and difficulty swallowing.

The symptoms of EoE are as varied as they are challenging. From the sensation of food sticking while swallowing to stomach pains and even vomiting, each day can bring its own set of hurdles. In children, EoE can also impact growth and development, adding another layer of concern for families.

Diagnosing EoE requires a multidisciplinary approach. Tissue biopsies taken during an endoscopy reveal the presence of 15 or more eosinophils in the esophagus, confirming the diagnosis. This meticulous process underscores the importance of collaboration between gastroenterologists, allergists, and dietitians in managing EoE effectively.

“I knew I had many allergies that caused my throat to be itchy, but little did I know that I was eating other foods I was allergic to unknowingly. Thankfully, after testing, the allergist told me I was allergic to raw carrots and rye. These two foods I was eating every single day; pb and j for lunch on 15 grain bread (with rye) and carrots in a salad with dinner every night. The good news is that I stopped eating these two foods immediately. 

In the meantime, I had an endoscopy that indeed confirmed I had EoE and major inflammation in my esophagus. After a few months of eliminating the trigger foods, my pain started to decrease and I figured out how to manage my new diagnoses. I do wish I had a dietitian on my team at the time.

Now being a registered dietitian myself, I strive to help others with individualized care, and keep an eye out for potential EoE in my clients to help alleviate their pain. If I suspect EoE, I will add a gastroenterologist and allergist to their care team with me as well.” 

Ava's journey highlights the crucial role of building a comprehensive treatment team. She's learned to navigate the complexities of her diet, identifying and eliminating trigger foods to alleviate symptoms. Additionally, her partnership with gastroenterologists and allergists ensures a holistic approach to managing her condition.

The road to managing EoE is not without its challenges. For Ava, adjusting to dietary restrictions and undergoing regular endoscopies are part of her routine. However, with the unwavering support of her treatment team and the determination to take control of her health, she's found a path forward.

Beyond medical intervention, support networks play a pivotal role in coping with EoE. Online communities, support groups, and advocacy organizations provide invaluable resources and a sense of solidarity for individuals and families navigating this condition. By sharing experiences and insights, they offer comfort and guidance to those facing similar challenges.

As awareness of EoE grows, so too does the hope for improved treatments and ultimately, a cure. Ongoing research seeks to unravel the complexities of this condition, paving the way for more targeted therapies and personalized approaches to care. In the meantime, individuals like Ava inspire resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis is more than just a medical term—it's a reality that affects individuals like Ava every day. By shedding light on Ava's journey and the intricacies of managing EoE, we hope to foster greater understanding and support for those impacted by this chronic condition. With the right treatment team, support network, and a resilient spirit, individuals with EoE can navigate their journey to wellness.

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