As a naturopathic doctor with a specialty in gastroenterology I often work with patients that have been referred to me by a primary care doctor. In these cases, symptoms are often hard to diagnose or conversely, the diagnosis is so specific my expertise is required.
Eosinophilic esophagitis (EOE) is one of those specific types of diagnoses.
A naturopathic approach to patient care looks for the root cause of an illness in order to relieve symptoms. The treatment of EOE requires a multifaceted approach, so my goal is to work in cooperation and conjunction with a patient’s Gastroenterologist.
Are you struggling with an EOE diagnosis and you’re not sure where to turn?
Following are some frequently asked questions patients have about EOE and its diagnosis and treatment.
What is EOE?
Eosinophilic esophagitis (EOE) is an inflammation that occurs when white blood cells infiltrate the mucosal lining of the esophagus. It is found in both adults and children.
What are the symptoms of EOE?
The main symptom of EOE is an increased difficulty in swallowing. For instance, if a patient were to say that swallowing certain foods had become problematic, like bread or meat, and they needed a lot of water to get those foods down, I would suspect EOE.
What causes EOE?
As with a lot of specialty cases, it is not yet well understood how someone might develop EOE. Here are a few things that can help us pinpoint EOE as the culprit in the inflammation process:
- ALLERGENS – The most common cause for EOE are allergens. We look at basic known triggers for all people: milk, eggs, soy, wheat (avoid these) and triggers specific to an individual.
Fish, nuts, and tree nuts are not commonly associated with EOE but are more commonly associated with the symptoms of anaphylaxis
- GER – Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) occurs when stomach contents regurgitate into the esophagus causing irritation/ inflammation to the epithelial lining. This in and of itself makes it difficult to swallow. But the damage caused to the esophagus causes the lining to be more hypersensitive to allergens and then induces EOE.
How is EOE treated?
Generally, the initial diagnosis and treatment begins with a conventional approach by a gastroenterologist. However, there are many things a naturopathic doctor can do to support diagnosis and treatment of EOE.
Conventional Approach (gastroenterologist)
- eliminate dietary triggers
- endoscopy (biopsy and analysis)
- steroid therapy
- a balloon dilation if the esophagus narrows excessively (stenosis)
- allergen panel
- elemental diet – no digesting, bowel rest, nutrients in w/out processing and observation for a change without dietary triggers
- supplements that will reduce hypersensitivity
- identify other potential causes for the excessive immune response
This integration of approaches is my specialty and what many who suffer from EOE prefer. I am able to decrease inflammation and fibrosis to support the therapies offered by a GI doctor – especially mucosal lining repair as a precursor for surgery or endoscopy.
One of the pillars of naturopathic medicine is to equip you with information so that you can make the most informed decisions about your health. In fact, at the heart of naturopathic medicine is the philosophy of doctor as teacher. My intention is to empower you to participate in your own healing process.
Please contact Dr. Heather Buckle ND, FABNO if you have questions about integrative solutions for any gastrointestinal issues you may have. If you live in Washington state and would like to learn more about Dr. Buckle’s naturopathic approach to your wellness, please call (206) 643-2239 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.