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Your Guide to Eosinophilic Esophagitis

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Helping Your Child Manage Food Impaction

Medically Reviewed By Karen Gill, M.D.

Parents of children with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) may be concerned about the possibility of food impaction. However, taking proactive steps can help your child understand and manage EoE symptoms.

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EoE is a chronic allergic condition that causes inflammation in the esophagus, which may lead to potential scarring, making the esophagus narrower. It can be harder for food to pass through a narrow esophagus. So, food can get lodged, leading to food impaction.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology suggests an increase in EoE cases has raised awareness of symptoms among doctors.

If your child has EoE, it’s important to remember this condition can be treatable, and working with an allergist or immunologist can be the first step to finding support and resources.  

Talking with your child about eosinophilic esophagitis

Learning to manage EoE symptoms starts with consciously adapting the experience of eating, swallowing, and getting nutrition. For example, a carefully managed diet is key to avoiding allergic reactions. Under a doctor’s supervision, you can make sure that your child doesn’t unintentionally eat foods that might cause EoE symptoms.

The possibility of food impaction may occur and require emergency medical care since it can lead to a perforation of the esophagus. Taking an active role in managing it may help you and your child feel calmer during what may feel like an unmanageable situation.

You can also help your child learn why it’s so important for them to stick to a particular diet or avoid certain foods. Working with a registered dietitian can help you learn more about EoE food allergens and specific nutrition recommendations for your child.

These dietary changes may take time to get used to, and your child may experience a mix of emotions about living with EoE. Consider talking with a mental health professional who can provide additional tools for you and your family.

Considering treatment and medication

Your child’s doctor can recommend the right treatment plan to manage EoE symptoms. Not all children with EoE take medication as a form of treatment. Ask your child’s doctor about the risks and benefits of considering medication.

A proton pump inhibitor (PPI) may be the first line of therapy before making dietary changes. A 2018 research review suggested that PPIs may reduce and reverse the inflammatory genetic molecules in children with EoE.

Your doctor may mention an esophageal dilation to widen the esophagus and reduce the chance of food impaction.

Let your child’s doctor know if they have more trouble swallowing or choking. This may mean it’s time to try a different treatment.

Communicate clearly with others

Although awareness of EoE symptoms has increased in the medical community, people living with EoE may have to explain symptoms to family and friends.

Communicating your child’s needs to family, friends, and teachers can help them understand EoE symptoms and become a support system. Find practical ways to explain your child can experience food impaction so that they can watch out for signs and take action if that happens.

Many group experiences occur with food: birthday parties, festivals, school events, holiday celebrations, and more. It’s important to make sure your child doesn’t feel left out when they can’t eat the same foods as their peers or family members.

Proactive conversations with family, friends, coaches, teachers, and fellow parents can go a long way in raising awareness of your child’s condition and finding ways to make sure it’s not a barrier to having fun.

Since it’s natural for kids to want to share food, encourage your child to explain that they have to be careful about what they eat. Their friends may not know anyone else with this EoE, so they might not know your child can’t eat whatever everyone else eats.

You can help your child brainstorm quick ways to explain EoE to others — especially if you’re not around.

Find a support system

Building a strong support system can help parents and children with EoE on this journey. If you’re concerned that your child feels anxious about eating because it causes pain when swallowing or because they’re afraid they might experience food impaction, that’s understandable.

Talk with your child’s doctor about resources to help them adjust to living with EoE.

As you help your child adapt to physical and emotional changes, consider talking with a mental health professional to help you process your own needs.

Also, consider participating in a support group for parents and caregivers of children with EoE. The American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders has an online support community, and many states and cities have local volunteer-led support communities.  

Takeaway

EoE is a chronic allergic condition that may cause food impaction.

To help you support your child in managing EoE symptoms, your doctor can suggest a treatment plan that may include an elimination diet or an esophageal dilation to reduce the chances of food impaction. A registered dietitian can also suggest a nutrition plan. A mental health professional can also help your child in managing their emotions.

Supporting your child as they navigate EoE is an ongoing journey. Learning all you can about this condition, finding support, and taking practical steps can help you and your child feel confident and improve your quality of life.

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  1. Alhmoud T, et al. (2022). The risk of esophageal food impaction in eosinophilic esophagitis patients: The role of clinical and socioeconomic factors. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9484774/
  2. Eosinophilic esophagitis. (2023). https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-treatments/related-conditions/eosinophilic-esophagitis
  3. Eosinophilic esophagitis: A patient’s guide to resources and hope. (2023). https://apfed.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Eosinophilic-esophagitis-patient-guide-2023-digital.pdf
  4. “Eos-what??” Learning about eosinophilic gastrointestinal disease. (2018). https://apfed.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/egid-school-handout.pdf
  5. Gutiérrez-Junquera C, et al. (2018). The role of proton pump inhibitors in the management of pediatric eosinophilic esophagitis. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fped.2018.00119/full

Medical Reviewer: Karen Gill, M.D.
Last Review Date: 2023 Sep 29
View All Your Guide to Eosinophilic Esophagitis Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.