Eosinophilic gastritis (EG) is a rare, chronic disease that affects your stomach. EG occurs when you develop too many white blood cells called eosinophils, which work with the immune system to protect your digestive system. Medication or dietary changes can help ease symptoms such as nausea or stomach pain.
Eosinophilic gastritis (EG) is a rare disease that affects your stomach. A type of white blood cell (eosinophils) builds up, causing inflammation (swelling) and damage.
EG can affect anyone at any age. It's a chronic (long-term) disease. But your healthcare provider can help you manage symptoms with regular testing and diet changes.
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Eosinophils (ee-oh-sin-oh-fills) are one of several types of white blood cells that support your immune system. Your bone marrow (soft tissue inside bones) normally produces a small number of eosinophils. In a healthy person, they represent about 1% to 5% of white blood cells.
Eosinophilic gastritis affects people of all ages. Healthcare providers most often diagnose EG in adults between ages 30 and 50. Slightly more people assigned male at birth than people assigned female at birth develop the disease.
You may be at higher risk of developing EG if you have a history of allergic disorders or a family member with a related disease. People who develop EG often have allergic conditions such as:
Eosinophilic gastritis is one type of eosinophilic gastrointestinal disease (EGID). These conditions can affect different parts of your digestive system. You may have more than one disorder at once (which happens when you have high numbers of eosinophils).
The six main types of EGID include:
Healthcare providers believe that eosinophilic gastritis is a relatively rare disease. However, it's likely underdiagnosed because EG symptoms are like symptoms of many other conditions.
Healthcare providers don’t always know the exact cause of eosinophilic gastritis. In most cases, people develop EG due to an abnormal immune system response to certain foods.
Signs of eosinophilic gastritis are usually mild or moderate. Common symptoms include:
It can take a while to diagnose eosinophilic gastritis due to its common symptoms. It is typically diagnosed based on blood work (high eosinophil count), changes in the stomach on endoscopy and looking at tiny specimens from the stomach under the microscope. If the increased eosinophils are present in the deeper layers of the stomach wall rather than the superficial lining, it might be hard to see those eosinophils with simple biopsies and it can take longer to diagnose the disease.
To diagnose EG, your healthcare provider:
Other tests your healthcare provider may order include:
Eosinophilic gastritis has no cure, but medications or dietary changes can help you manage symptoms. Following treatment guidelines can help you lead an active, healthy life.
Eosinophilic gastritis doesn’t require emergency medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent severe complications such as malnutrition, especially in infants and children.
Healthcare providers treat eosinophilic gastritis using diet and medications to manage the underlying cause and its symptoms. EG treatment depends on your symptoms and disease severity.
Your provider may recommend dietary changes to prevent food allergens from triggering eosinophilic gastritis symptoms. These may include:
Your infant may need a new type of baby formula to ease EG symptoms. In some cases, children and adults need to take iron supplements.
You may also receive medications:
Your ability to reduce your risk of developing eosinophilic gastritis depends on the underlying condition. Allergies are the most common cause of high eosinophil levels.
Dietary changes and medication can help prevent or control your immune system's allergic reactions. A healthy diet and lifestyle can help reduce your overall risk of disease. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have allergies or a family history of EG.
For most people, the outlook for eosinophilic gastritis is generally good, though it's a chronic condition where patients can experience flare ups of the disease. Your healthcare provider works with you throughout your life to manage eosinophilic gastritis and ease your symptoms.
You receive regular endoscopies and biopsies to check on your condition. Monitoring helps your provider adjust treatment, if needed, so you or your child can avoid complications. Follow your provider's guidelines and keep medical appointments to ensure timely care.
The degree to which EG impacts your life depends on the severity of your symptoms, any underlying condition and treatment success. In most cases, having eosinophilic gastritis means adjusting your diet to avoid food allergens and possibly taking medication.
For many people, dietary changes can mean physical and emotional challenges. It may be difficult at first to plan around meals and social occasions. You may not be able to eat some of your favorite foods. But by following treatment guidelines and seeking support when you need it, you can feel better and stay active.
Seek care for eosinophilic gastritis when you feel stomach pain or symptoms that get worse. Talk with your provider about your symptoms and how they respond to dietary changes or medication. Your provider may refer you to a GI specialist called a gastroenterologist.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Eosinophilic gastritis (EG) is a rare, long-term disease that affects your stomach. It often takes time to confirm a diagnosis, since its symptoms so closely resemble those of other common diseases. While there's no cure, medication or dietary changes can help ease symptoms. Your healthcare provider works closely with you to maximize treatment and your quality of life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/25/2022.
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