With the holidays just around the corner, many people will be eating more food and, often, unfamiliar foods at potlucks and house parties, which means they may be more prone to developing swallowing problems.

“One of these conditions is called eosinophilic esophagitis which is an inflammatory disorder of the esophagus,” said Dr. Lubin Arevalo, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine - Gastroenterology at Baylor College of Medicine. “Some individuals with this condition may have allergic reactions to certain foods that can promote the inflammation in the esophagus.”

This condition can lead to stiffening and even narrowing of the esophagus, which subsequently leads to a difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or food getting stuck in the esophagus.

People with an allergic background may be more likely to develop it.

Symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis include:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Choking episodes
  • Food impaction

The best treatment for this has yet to be determined, but current diagnosis of this condition is by performing an upper endoscopy with biopsy of the esophagus.

In most cases, eosinophilic esophagitis can be treated by restricting certain foods and taking medications. Sometimes special procedures performed during endoscopy are also needed.

“At Baylor, we have identified criteria of how to treat these patients,” Arevalo explained. “We use a multidisciplinary team to properly treat and care for patients suffering from eosinophilic esophagitis because this is certainly something that can affect a patient’s quality of life.”

The treatment team at Baylor consists of a nutritionist, a doctor who specializes in allergies and immunology and a gastroenterologist.

“We’ve received great feedback from patients on this team approach,” Arevalo said.

When patients call with these symptoms, they can receive a same-day appointment at Baylor.

“It’s important to diagnose and treat eosinophilic esophagitis as soon as possible because as it progresses symptoms become more frequent and, in some cases, can prevent patients from eating,” Arevalo said.