Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Eosinophilia

Pronounced: eh-SIN-oh-feel-ia

Definition

Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell. They help protect the body from certain types of infections. They’re also involved in allergic reactions. Eosinophils are made in the bone. They move through the body in the blood.

Eosinophilia is a high number of this cell type. High levels may be found anywhere in the body.

There are 3 types:

  • Familial—caused by problems in genes that control eosinophil growth
  • Primary—change in the number of eosinophils made because of certain blood cancers
  • Secondary—from infections, immune system problems, or allergies

White Blood Cells
White Blood Cells

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Causes ^

Causes of eosinophilia:

  • Illness in a certain area
  • The body makes too many of these cells

The cause differs based on the type:

  • Conditions caused by allergies or inflammation
  • Conditions caused by infections

Sometimes the cause is unknown.

Risk Factors ^

People in your family with the same problems make your chances of the familial type higher.

Your chances of the other types are higher if you have:

  • Allergies—including food
  • Infections—mainly caused by parasites
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Skin conditions
  • Certain blood cancers
  • Reactions to medicines
  • Conditions or toxic exposures from work

Symptoms ^

Some people may not have symptoms. In those that have them, they depend on the underlying cause:

  • Asthma:
    • Wheezing
    • Breathing problems
  • Infections from a parasite:

Rarely, these may happen:

  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Swollen glands in the neck, groin, or other parts of the body
  • Skin rashes
  • Numbness and tingling due to nerve damage

Diagnosis ^

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may have:

  • A physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Biopsy
  • Stool tests
  • Bone marrow tests

Tests depend on the problems you have. They may focus on where problems are such as the heart or lungs. This may involve:

Treatment ^

The focus of care depends on the problems you’re having. If the cause is unknown, care may involve medicines. Corticosteroids will ease inflammation. They will also lower the number of eosinophils. These medicines come in different forms.

Prevention ^

If you are at high risk for eosinophilia, your doctor will watch you for any changes.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
https://www.aaaai.org

American Society of Hematology
http://www.hematology.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Allergy Asthma Information Association
http://aaia.ca

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Eosinophilia. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/eosinophilic-disorders/eosinophilia. Updated November 2016. Accessed July 13, 2018.

Eosinophilia. Patient website. Available at: https://patient.info/doctor/eosinophilia. Updated March 12, 2014. Accessed July 13, 2018.

Eosinophilia—approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T917758/Eosinophilia-approach-to-the-patient. Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed July 13, 2018.

Tefferi A. Blood eosinophilia: a new paradigm in disease classification, diagnosis, and treatment.. Mayo Clin Proc. 2005;80(1):75-83.

Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Fucci, DO, FACC  Last Updated: 7/13/2018