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Eosinophilic oesophagitis (EoE) is a condition that affects the gullet (oesophagus). There is a build up of a particular type of immune cell (eosinophils) in the lining of the gullet causing inflammation or irritation. This affects how the gullet works, causing symptoms such as difficulty swallowing. The condition is diagnosed by using a telescope to look inside the gullet and take small samples (called biopsies) of the lining. It can be a long-standing condition, but it is not cancer and is not life-threatening. It can be successfully managed with diet and/or medications.

EoE 1

Figure 1. Characteristic endoscopic appearance of trachealisation in eosinophilic oesophagits. Source: UHBW NHS Foundation Trust.

We do not fully understand what causes EoE, but it is thought to occur due to a combination of genetic makeup and the body's response to the environment.  We also know that it affects more men than women and is also more likely if you have allergies such as asthma or hay fever.

Difficulty swallowing

The main problem caused by EoE is usually difficulty swallowing. The medical term for this is dysphagia. Some people find that food may get stuck on the way down after chewing and swallowing. Often food then slowly works its way down into the stomach, but sometimes people will bring the food back up.


Some people find that food or fluid they have swallowed comes back up into the back of their throat. Usually this will be a small amount, which some people automatically swallow again.

Indigestion, heart burn or pain

People with EoE may experience burning or an achy sensation in the middle of the chest behind the breast bone or in the upper part of the abdomen or tummy. Sometimes this can be severe and people report feeling pain in this area. These symptoms are similar to acid indigestion, which is very common. However, in people with EoE, these symptoms will not respond to anti acid medications.

Chest pain

As the gullet is irritated and does not work normally, some people with EoE experience pain in the middle of the chest. This can be from irritation or inflammation, or from spasm of the muscle in the gullet.

Weight loss

As people with EoE have difficulty eating and drinking normally, they may reduce the amount they eat and drink, leading to weight loss.