Treating Eosinophilic Diseases Affecting the Digestive Tract

Welcome to the University of Utah Adult Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Clinic (EGID) where we specialize in the care and treatment of patients with conditions such as eosinophilic esophagitis, gastritis, duodenitis, jejunitis, ileitis (collectively enteritis), and colitis.

Allergic GI Diseases

EGIDs, or eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases, are believed to be allergic diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract. EGIDs can affect all sexes and ages. At the University of Utah EGID Clinic, our providers are committed providing coordinated and multidisciplinary care to our patients.

EGIDs were previously thought to be rare diseases, in particular eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE); however, specialists are increasingly diagnosing cases. In spite of this, there are no current FDA-approved therapies to treat these diseases. However, understanding EGIDs is an active area of our clinical and research interests and at the core of our EGID Clinic.

EGID Causes & Conditions

EGID disorders are disorders that have above normal amounts of eosinophils. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell in specific places of the digestive system. EGID disorders can be divided into conditions specific to different organs:

  • Eosinophilic Gastritis (EG): EG has high numbers of eosinophils in the stomach.
  • Eosinophilic Enteritis (EoN): EGE affects the stomach and small intestine.
  • Eosinophilic Colitis (EC): EC has high numbers of eosinophils in the large intestine.

Visually providers cannot always see the inflammation caused by EGIDS; however, we can sometimes see inflammation under the microscope.

Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Symptoms & Diagnosis

EGID Symptoms

Symptoms can be different for each condition because inflammation in each digestive organ happens differently. For example, if the inflamed organ is the esophagus, you may have trouble swallowing. If your colon is inflamed, you may experience diarrhea or pain.

Diagnosing EGIDS

There is not a definitive standard way, at this time, for doctors to diagnose EGIDs. Doctors mainly use these characteristics to look for EGIDs:

  • Inflammation
  • Numbers of eosinophils in the digestive system
  • Activity of eosinophils
  • Symptoms of eosinophils

If you have above normal amounts of eosinophils in your digestive system, you may not necessarily have an EGID. You could have another inflammatory disease that could include eosinophils but is not just an eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorder. Other inflammatory diseases could include Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Often a pathologist must look at a biopsy to diagnose the exact condition. Also, since eosinophils are normal in the gastrointestinal system, determining just how large an amount of them contribute to disease is difficult.

Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Diseases Treatment

Your treatment options will be different depending on your needs and the type of EGID you have. Providers also consider whether your inflammation is from foods you are allergic to. In general, your provider will suggest therapies such as:

  • acid suppression (proton pump inhibitors),
  • specialized elimination diets, and
  • topical or systemic steroids.

If the inflammation is affecting your stomach, intestine, and colon, your condition is less likely to be caused by allergies. While there currently are no FDA approved therapies for any EGIDs, several biologic (antibody) treatments are under investigation.

When Should You See a Provider?

If you have a diagnosis of an EGID, you should work with a provider who specializes in the treatment of EGIDs. Because EGIDs are chronic inflammatory diseases, you will need regular follow ups, even if your disease is in remission.

Find an EGID Provider Near You

What to Expect at Your First Appointment

At your initial visit, you will see either an allergist or gastroenterologist. We communicate and work closely with each other to provide the best care. In the coming months, this clinic will be offered as a joint visit so you will see providers at the same time.

We also work closely with nutritionists and you can have an appointment with a dietitian about dietary options.