27 March 2009
Eosinophilic oesophagitis — an inflammatory condition that causes a choking sensation in the throat due to inflammation and swelling — is becoming increasingly common, but effective treatment options remain limited, an expert says. Symptoms in children affected with eosinophilic oesophagitis include failure to thrive, slow eating or vomiting.
Associate Professor Raymond Mullins, a Canberra allergy expert told the 25th World Congress of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine that the incidence (number of new cases arising) of eosinophilic oesophagitis had increased from a handful of cases in the 1970s to that of a mainstream disease today.
He estimated that currently in Australia, one in 10,000 people were affected with eosinophilic oesophagitis. About a third of those with the condition also had allergic diseases.
The condition could only be diagnosed with multiple biopsies (tissue samples) of the oesophagus, Professor Mullins said. It was caused by a delayed inflammatory response and so a skin-prick test was not effective.
Most people responded to an elimination diet if the allergic food could be identified, he said. 'But it is not clear whether diet plays a role in everybody,' he added.
While steroid therapy was effective, very high doses were required, raising long-term safety concerns, he said.
Last Reviewed: 27 March 2009