Eosinophilic Esophagitis Clinic :: Glossary
Abdomen: This is the area of the body from the chest area to the hips.
Acid reflux: Also known as “heartburn,” this is a medical condition in which stomach contents can come up into the esophagus and cause a painful feeling in the chest behind the breast bone.
Allergen: An environmental substance containing protein that causes a reaction when ingested or inhaled. See Allergy.
Allergist: A medical professional who has extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic conditions. This includes asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, eosinophilic esophagitis, food allergies and immune diseases.
Allergy: An immune reaction to an environmental substance that is not actually harmful, but the body perceives it as such.
Allergy testing: See Skin Prick and Patch Testing
Amino acid: The “building blocks” of proteins. Proteins are made up of chains of amino acids. The sequence of amino acids varies with different proteins.
Antihistamine: A medication that blocks the action of histamine. There are two types of antihistamines. H1 blockers (Benadryl) are used to treat allergic conditions such as hay fever. H2 blockers (Zantac) are used to decrease excessive stomach acid when reflux or gastritis is present.
Anus: A sphincter in the rectum that allows for controlled passage of stool (bowel movements).
Asthma: A chronic inflammatory condition of the airways. The most common cause of asthma is allergies to the environment. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Autoimmune disease: A condition in which the body “attacks” itself. Inflammatory cells create chronic inflammation in the body part affected. Examples include rheumatoid diseases (in joints) and inflammatory bowel disease (in the intestines).
Barrett’s esophagitis: A condition associated with severe untreated gastroesophageal reflux. It is thought to be associated with increased risk of esophageal cancer.
Biopsy: Removal of a small piece of tissue for the purpose of analysis under the microscope.
Bloating: A condition that is associated with excessive abdominal gas and can produce a feeling of intense fullness.
Carbohydrates: Major energy source for the cells of the body. Carbohydrates can be simple (glucose) or complex (starch) and are found in grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, dairy foods and sugars.
Diagnosis: The method of identification of a disease by analyzing symptoms, signs and laboratory findings.
Dietitian: A professional trained in all aspects of nutritional needs for growing children. Dietitians are experts in their field and can provide invaluable guidance for families. They are a very important part of EoE treatment as they help families understand how to meet their child’s nutritional needs, particularly when they have to restrict foods from their diet.
Digestive System: The organs involved in eating, digestion of foods and elimination of solid waste products. The digestive system includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.
Dysphagia: The experience of difficulty swallowing either liquid or solids.
Elemental diet: A diet in which table foods are eliminated and replaced with a completely nutritional “elemental” formula. This formula contains amino acids rather than complete proteins and reduces the risk of an allergic reaction. Learn more about elemental diets.
Elimination diet: A special diet that eliminates specific foods or food groups. Learn more about food elimination.
Endoscopy: A procedure in which an endoscope, a flexible tube with a light and camera at the end, is passed into an organ. This device can be used to see inside a hollow organ, such as the esophagus, stomach and small bowel and can also take biopsy samples. Examination of the digestive system is called an upper endoscopy or an esophagogastroduodenoscopy.
Eosinophil: A type of white blood cell that is associated with allergic reactions.
Eosinophilic esophagitis: A condition in which eosinophils are present on the lining of the esophagus.
Esophageal lining: The outermost layer of the esophagus is called a “mucus membrane.” This lining protects the esophagus against damage and also helps food move more easily down to the stomach. This is the area from which biopsies are taken during upper endoscopies. Other layers below the mucus membrane layer secrete mucus and control the muscular movement propelling food forward (peristalsis).
Esophagitis: Inflammation of the esophageal tissue
Esophagus: The tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. Food is moved forward by waves of muscle movement called peristalsis.
Failure to thrive: A term to describe poor growth and is usually accompanied by inadequate weight gain. Poor weight gain can be caused by multiple conditions including eosinophilic esophagitis.
Food Elimination Diet: The removal of a food or food group from the diet. This can be a “guided” elimination diet (based on skin prick and patch testing results) or removal of the most common allergenic foods. (See six-food elimination diet.)
G Tube: Also known as a gastrostomy tube. It is inserted through the skin into the stomach. G Tubes can be used to give medications, formulas and blended foods.
Gastritis: Inflammation of the lining of the stomach.
Gastroenterologist: A physician who specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive disorders of the gastrointestinal tract including disease of the liver, spleen and pancreas.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): A disease associated with the reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus causing “heartburn.” Learn more about GERD.
Gluten: A type of protein that is found in a variety of grains including wheat, rye and barley.
H pylori: A type of bacteria that can cause ulcers in the stomach and small intestine. Most gastroenterologists look for the presence of this bacteria during upper endoscopies, especially when an ulcer is suspected.
High power field (hpf): A description of the amount of magnification under the microscope (usually 400 x). When tissue samples are examined for the presence of eosinophils, the pathologist states how many eosinophils were found by stating how many eosinophils per hpf. (Example: 40 eosinophils/hpf)
Hypoallergenic: Less likely to cause an allergic reaction
Lactose: The sugar present in dairy based foods.
Lactose intolerance: Some individuals do not make enough lactase, the enzyme that digests milk sugar (lactose). When people who are lactose intolerant eat or drink dairy products, bacteria in their intestines feed off the undigested lactose and cause fermentation. The fermentation usually leaves them feeling abdominal pain and bloating.
Malabsorption: The lack of absorption of nutrients from the food that is eaten.
Multidisciplinary team: A team of health care providers who work together in order to provide comprehensive care. In the case of eosinophilic esophagitis, these team members represent the fields of allergy, gastroenterology and nutrition.
Naso gastric (NG) tube: A hollow tube that is passed through the nasal passage into the esophagus and down to the stomach. It is used to deliver formula directly to the stomach.
Parenteral nutrition: A method of providing complete nutrition (fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals) through an intravenous infusion directly into the blood stream.
Patch testing: A method of allergy testing used to identify food sensitivities. Fresh food is placed in small chambers and secured to the patient’s back with tape. Foods are kept on the patient’s back for 48 hours and then removed. Any “positive” reactions are measured. The amount of redness and the size of the reaction are recorded.
Peristalsis: The waves of muscular activity occurring in the digestive system. This moves food forward from the mouth the intestines.
Protein: An essential substance necessary to sustain the body. Proteins are comprised of many amino acids that are connected in specific sequences. When allergies are present, the reaction is due to the protein in the substance. Some patients with eosinophilic esophagitis are treated with an “elemental diet” that contains only amino acids, no intact proteins.
Proton pump inhibitor: A special medication designed to modify the pumping of preformed acid into the stomach. It binds itself to the “proton pumps” in the lining of the stomach and prevents excessive stomach acid.
Reintroduction: The process in which foods are slowly added back in to a patient’s diet. This is done after the eosinophils have been eliminated.
Six-food elimination diet: This special diet is often used to treat eosinophilic esophagitis. This diet is used when prick and patch testing does not identify any specific food “triggers” for the eosinophilic esophagitis symptoms. It is also used if other food elimination diets have failed to get rid of the eosinophils in the esophagus. The six foods include: dairy, eggs, wheat, tree nuts/peanuts, fish/shellfish, and soy. (There are really 8 foods, but some are grouped.)
Skin prick testing (scratch testing): A method of identifying food and environmental sensitivities. This testing is also known as “allergy testing.” Drops of “allergens” are placed on the skin and a small prick is made through the liquid. Any redness or hive reaction is measured. These reactions can be described as mild, moderate or severe.
Steroids: This class of medication is often used to treat inflammation. Medications typically used for asthmatics have been modified to treat eosinophilic esophagitis. When these medications are swallowed, they coat the esophagus destroying the eosinophils and allow for healing to take place. The steroids act locally in the esophagus and do not cause harm to the body. These are NOT anabolic steroids and are safe for growing children.
Treatment: Medical care that is given to a patient by a medical professional for the purpose of reducing symptoms or curing an illness.
Upper GI series: This is a test used to study the structure (anatomy) of the gastrointestinal tract. Barium is swallowed and a series of pictures are taken from the mouth to stomach. Sometimes the test includes pictures of the small intestine. In this case, the test is called an upper GI series with a small bowel follow through.