Definition

Eosinophilic gastritis (EG) is a condition that results in inflammation of the stomach. It can make it hard for the body to get enough nutrients from food.

EG may happen in cycles. Symptoms may fade or stop for a time, and then may flare up again.

Cause

EG is caused by a buildup of white blood cells called eosinophils. These cells are part of the immune system. They cause inflammation when there is an infection or injury in the body. With EG, the eosinophils build up in tissue when they are not needed. This leads to long-term inflammation. Over time, this damages tissue and causes ulcers and polyps in the colon.

It is not clear what causes EG. It is likely due to genetics and the environment. It may also be linked to an allergic reaction.

Risk Factors

Things that may increase a child’s risk of this problem are:

  • Genetic health issues
  • Family members with allergies or asthma
  • Food allergies
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Atopic dermatitis—eczema
  • Other eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases

Symptoms

EG may cause:

  • Severe belly pain
  • Swelling of the belly
  • A feeling of fullness after eating a small amount
  • A burning feeling in the chest
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loose stools with or without blood
  • Tiredness
  • Problems feeding in infants

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. EG can be hard to diagnose with tests. Other issues of the stomach or intestines can cause similar problems. Tests to rule out other conditions are:

  • Blood tests
  • Allergy tests
  • Endoscopy—a scope is passed through the mouth to the stomach to view the area

A biopsy is the only way to confirm EG. A sample of the stomach will be removed and tested to look for eosinophils.

Upper GI Endoscopy
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Treatment

There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to slow or stop damage. Options are:

  • Dietary changes, such as avoiding foods that cause symptoms and following a nutrition plan
  • Medicines, such as:
    • Steroids to ease inflammation during flareups
    • Immune suppressants

Prevention

There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.

RESOURCES:

American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders
http://apfed.org

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
https://www.healthychildren.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
https://www.cag-acg.org

Sick Kids—The Hospital for Sick Children
http://www.sickkids.ca

REFERENCES:

Eosinophilic gastritis. American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders website. Available at: http://apfed.org/about-ead/egids/eg. Accessed December 16, 2020.

Eosinophilic gastritis. National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) website. Available at: https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/eosinophilic-gastroenteritis. Accessed December 16, 2020.

Fahey LM, Liacouras CA. Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2017 Jun;64(3):475-485.

Zhang M, Li Y. Eosinophilic gastroenteritis: A state-of-the-art review. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 Jan;32(1):64-72.

Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC  Last Updated: 1/6/2021