Eosinophilic esophagitis, commonly referred to as EoE, is a disease that can affect patients of any age, but can be particularly tough for children–and their parents–to bear. It is fundamentally a condition that causes a particular type of white blood cell to build up in esophagus, which can make any eating or drinking painful, especially when the food or drink itself is an irritant. However, a new study focused on a new kind of elimination diet will be good news to both parents and kids with EoE. Read on to learn about this new elimination diet, and how it can make living with EoE more bearable.
One of the best treatments for patients of any age who suffer from EoE is to try an elimination diet. To ensure proper nutrition, please discuss dietary restrictions with your child’s pediatrician or one of the GI Associates pediatric gastroenterologists. An elimination diet is exclusionary, completely negating a handful of foods from the diet in order to avoid symptoms. Previously, there was a six-food elimination diet that worked well for pediatric patients, taking away peanuts and tree nuts, shellfish and fish, cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, and soy. This diet has shown high remission in such a large number of cases (up to 81%), which makes it a viable choice for many that suffer from the disease.
However, as a parent, it can become increasingly hard to keep your child away from so many foods at one time. It can make meal planning tough, eating out almost impossible, and cause feelings of anxiety when your child is not under your watchful eye, such as at school. Recently, a newer study showed that up to 60% of children achieved remission after performing only a four-food elimination diet. Similar but less limiting, this diet only eliminated cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, and soy over an eight-week period.
Why an Elimination Diet?
Parents of children with EoE should also be aware that just because the diet begins eliminating a fair amount of food ingredients (four to six), it doesn’t necessarily have to stay that way. “Regular” diets that help people lose weight often have patients avoid certain foods or food groups (such as carbohydrates) to achieve weight loss quickly; when it comes to an elimination diet, doctors and parents are trying to pinpoint that one food ingredient causing the EoE to flare up.
This means if you begin by eliminating wheat, soy, egg, and cow’s milk for a set amount of weeks and achieve remission, it is then time to introduce those items–one at a time–slowly back into the diet. If your child has completely avoided cow’s milk for eight weeks and has a glass on the first day of the ninth week followed by a massive flare-up, you then know that cow’s milk must be excluded permanently. Under a physician’s care, this type of diet is an excellent way to improve quality of life, especially once the irritant foods have been discovered. Beginning by only excluding four foods makes the diet much easier on both parents and kids.
Other than diet, another issue parents with children of EoE are faced with is finding the right physician. Gastrointestinal practices are often geared toward adult patients. While they may technically “take” pediatric patients, it is not their specialty. As children with EoE already face daily pain and discomfort, treatment for them should be specifically geared toward their age group with physicians that not only specialize in pediatric GI issues but can also help make doctor visits less stressful and more fun for kids.
Here at GI Associates, we have a team of doctors that specialize only in pediatrics, who, along with our mascot Gigi the Giraffe, can help make visits and checkups fun for kids. If you need more information about EoE or suspect that your child may be suffering from a gastrointestinal disorder, make an appointment at GI Associates today. With an entire team of doctors focusing solely on pediatrics, your child will receive the best care possible.