Updated: Jun 27, 2020
This month is an exciting time for allergy awareness! During May, there is Celiac Awareness month, Allergy Awareness Week, and Eosinophilic Awareness Week. For today's post, I'm focusing on National Eosinophil Awareness Week.
According to Apfed, "Eosinophils (ee-oh-sin-oh-fils) are a type of white blood cell that are part of our immune system. [...] Typically, eosinophils make up less than 5% of circulating white blood cells in healthy individuals and can vary over time in healthy individuals. When a person has elevated numbers of eosinophils in their digestive system, tissues, organs, and/or bloodstream, without a known cause, he or she may have an eosinophil-associated disease. The high numbers of eosinophils cause inflammation and damage to surrounding tissue and organs." These elevated levels of eosinophils can be problematic at any part of the digestive system, therefore the disorder can occur at any point in the digestive tract.
I personally have Eosinophilic Esophagitis, which I was diagnosed with during my senior year of high school after just turning 17. For my entire life, I had suffered from chronic heartburn, food intolerance, difficulty swallowing (I have choked twice and was saved via the Heimlich maneuver), and food getting stuck in my throat (commonly referred to as food impaction). I also suffered from low growth and am the shortest of my siblings. I was finally diagnosed through an endoscopy and biopsy by my Gastroenterologist after which I started a regimen of medications and a special diet. Luckily, my condition responded very well to these treatments, but for many, they struggle for years after diagnosis to find a regimen that works.
Eosinophilic disorders are considered rare diseases, so the amount of money put towards specific research is limited. For this reason, there is currently no cure. There have been a few studies that have provided treatment options such as use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) and swallowed topical steroids (Apfed website). Additionally, I once read a study that concluded that people with Eosinophilic disorders have a lower quality of life which is disappointing. The main foundation that raises money specifically for Eosinophilic-based research is the CURED Foundation. Through their money, there have been some hopeful breakthroughs recently in potential causes for Eosinophilic disorders.
If you are looking to learn more, please visit the Apfed website at https://apfed.org. There are tons of great infographics, fast facts about the different Eosinophil disorders, and other tools to help you spread awareness. To celebrate this week, head to my Instagram @eatingwellwithrochelle where I am partnering with Apfed to giveaway an Apfed t-shirt and the book, The Grand Tale of Gus the Eosinophil!