Children's Hospital Colorado
Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Diseases Program

Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) in Kids

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What is eosinophilic esophagitis?

Eosinophilic esophagitis, also known as EoE, is the chronic (long term) swelling of the esophagus caused by food allergies. Eosinophils (pronounced "e-o-sin-o-fils") are a kind of white blood cell activated by an allergic reaction.

When a child has EoE, eosinophils build up in the lining of their esophagus, which can cause inflammation (swelling) and many uncomfortable symptoms including abdominal pain, reflux-like symptoms and swallowing or feeding problems. Doctors must confirm an EoE diagnosis with a biopsy (a small tissue sample) showing an increased number of eosinophils in the esophagus.

EoE is one of several eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders (EGIDs) that can affect other parts of the gastrointestinal tract:

  • Eosinophilic esophagitis affects the esophagus and is the most common EGID.
  • Eosinophilic gastritis affects the stomach.
  • Eosinophilic gastroenteritis affects the intestines or multiple areas of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
  • Eosinophilic colitis affects the large intestine.

Learn about specialized care for kids with eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases at Children's Hospital Colorado. Or, watch the video below to see how Kyla's family found hope after an EoE diagnosis.

What causes eosinophilic esophagitis in children?

EoE is caused by chronic exposure to certain foods. Every EoE patient is different and may react to different types of food. Just like a person can develop a seasonal allergy when exposed to pollen, dust or mold, a child can develop an allergy (and EoE) after eating certain foods, such as dairy, eggs or wheat.

Is EoE genetic?

Research shows that EoE can run in families, which means there is likely a genetic cause of EoE.

Who gets eosinophilic esophagitis?

EoE can occur in both children and adults. It affects boys more often than girls (about three to one), though doctors do not yet understand why. EoE is more common in kids and teens who have other allergic diseases, such as hay fever, eczema, asthma and food allergies.

EoE can run in families. For instance, it is not unusual for a patient's parent or other relative to have a history of food getting stuck in the esophagus, swallowing problems or esophageal dilations.

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Get to know our pediatric experts.

Samantha Woodruff, MD

Samantha Woodruff, MD

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Alexandra Kilgore, MD

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Jilayne Smith, CPNP-AC

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Nathalie Nguyen, MD

Nathalie Nguyen, MD

Gastroenterology - Pediatric, Pediatrics