Q: Our doctor thinks that my son might have an eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorder, but I am confused about what that is and how it can be treated. Where can I find out more?
A: Eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders (also known as EGIDs) are rare conditions that can occur when there are high levels of eosinophils in one or more parts of the digestive system, including the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines. An eosinophil is a type of white blood cell that is involved in allergic reactions.
Symptoms of EGIDs can vary, which sometimes make them difficult to diagnose. Some of the common ones include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Abdominal pain
- Poor weight gain or failure to thrive
Typically your gastroenterologist will need to do a biopsy to positively diagnose an EGID and rule out any other digestive diseases (such as GERD). Once a diagnosis has been made, they will often follow up with allergy testing to help determine the appropriate treatment.
Depending on the severity of your son’s EGID and allergies, he may need to be on an elimination diet and avoid all potential allergens. Your doctor may recommend an elemental formula (like Neocate Jr. or EO28 Splash), which will ensure that he doesn’t have any allergic reactions and still gets all of the nutrients he needs. Once his digestive tract begins to heal, then the process of trialing new foods will begin to identify “safe” items that he can eat.
For more information about EGIDs, be sure to visit the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders website, www.apfed.org.