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Your Guide to Eosinophilic Esophagitis

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PHYSICIAN VOICES
Managing Eosinophilic Esophagitis: What I Want My Patients of Color to Know

Medically Reviewed By Youssef (Joe) Soliman, MD

As a gastroenterologist and a woman of color, I know navigating the healthcare system and receiving the best care can be challenging, especially for people of color. Although the textbook eosinophilic esophagitis patient is a young, white male, it still impacts people of every background. I want my patients of color with eosinophilic esophagitis to be as prepared as possible to get the care they need from a doctor they trust. Here’s what I want them to know.

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1. Find a doctor you trust

When you look for a doctor, try to find someone who shows you they care about you as an individual, who is open to your thoughts and ideas, and whom you inherently trust. You don’t have to settle for the doctor you were referred to or the first one you find. 

As a physician, I recognize that a patient is coming to see me because they have reached the point where their symptoms cannot be self-managed and are impacting their quality of life. Eosinophilic esophagitis can be a scary condition to live with, because when you can’t swallow your food, it can feel like you can’t breathe or eat. This is a vulnerable person who is coming to share their vulnerabilities with me. I am humbled by the idea that someone is willing to share with me. In medicine, we are humbled every day. 

Find a doctor with cultural sensitivity, as well – that means they will understand that there may be cultural factors at play that they may not be familiar with, but that they are open to learning more about. With eosinophilic esophagitis, you likely will need to develop relationships with two doctors: a gastroenterologist and an allergist. 

Find physicians you trust, who treat you with respect, and who will work together to find you the relief you need.

2. Turn to a dietitian 

A big part of treating eosinophilic esophagitis is eliminating certain foods from your diet to see if your symptoms improve. Eosinophilic esophagitis involves allergies to foods, so removing those foods from your diet can help immensely. 

Unfortunately, in this case, blood tests for allergies typically don’t give the results needed. Instead, an elimination diet can help identify problem foods. However, these diets are very difficult to follow and manage. The good news is that you’re not alone in the process. You can work with your doctor to follow the elimination diet week by week, and your doctor may also refer you to a dietitian, who can be a very helpful resource. 

A dietitian can show you the tips and tricks of elimination diets, revealing where ingredients can be hidden and sharing recipes that make the diet easier to follow. These diets are difficult because most of the burden is on the patient, and it’s a lot of work to read every single ingredient on a label and completely change your eating habits. 

A dietitian can be your partner during this process and help you along the way so it’s not all on you.

3. Find support

Support is out there as you continue on your path with eosinophilic esophagitis. National organizations like the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America are great resources for education, and they can also connect you with other people living with the condition. 

I also recommend that patients ask their doctors for recommendations to allergy support groups in their area. By meeting others with similar situations, you can learn from their experiences and share your own lessons learned.

Living with eosinophilic esophagitis can be challenging, but there are organizations and resources out there to assist you, as well as caring, committed specialists who will be there to partner with you in your care.

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Medical Reviewer: Youssef (Joe) Soliman, MD
Last Review Date: 2024 Jan 24
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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.