What is EOE? We asked the same thing. EOE stands for “eosinophilic esophagitis.” It’s a mouthful, but we learned pretty fast with as many times as we’ve had to say it. I am far from an expert, so I will defer to the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED).
Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic, allergic inflammatory disease of the esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach). It occurs when a type of white blood cell, the eosinophil, accumulates in the esophagus and persists despite acid-blocking medicine. The elevated number of eosinophils cause injury and inflammation to the esophagus. This damage may make eating difficult or uncomfortable, potentially resulting in poor growth, chronic pain, and/or difficulty swallowing.
Basically, our little dude has an allergy that isn’t exactly an allergy. Unlike allergies as most people understand them, his ‘trigger foods’ don’t cause a breathing reaction, but a digestive reaction. Someone in our support group described it like this: Anaphylaxis (the “throat swells up, can’t breathe” reaction) is like a stab wound. EOE is a like 100,000 paper cuts in the esophagus. One acute, one chronic, both bad. It’s like an autoimmune disease in which body thinks food is the enemy and attacks everything, including his esophagus. He can’t swallow, he throws up…. after a while, he chooses to just not eat, because it’s easier.
Fortunately, Reese’s case isn’t as severe as others. Some must avoid the Top 8 allergens (diary, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish). Some are “elemental,” meaning all dietary protein is removed from the diet and nutrition happens via a very broken down (and rather expensive) amino acid formula, sometimes via a feeding tube. Reese is essentially free of 7 of the Top 8. He can have wheat (for now at least).