Eureka! My Disease Has A Name And I Finally Found It!!

It’s Eosinophilic Esophagitis. EE for short. Kinda cute as disease acronyms go.

I didn’t always have EE. It arrived about 6-7 years ago (around the time I moved out of the Valley and into Silver Lake… hmmmmm). Pretty much came from out of nowhere. But in that time since, I’ve been at a total loss as to identify it — and not for a lack of googling, let me tell you. And the one time I attempted a diagnosis from a doctor several years ago I was told it was probably gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Nevermind that I told the so-called medical professional that it wasn’t GERD, I was given some prescription anti-acid meds and sent on my way. They had absolutely no effect whatsoever.

What would happen is that on occasion during meals, my esophagus would basically swell shut and trap whatever food I’d swallowed. At first and unawares, I’d keep shoveling food down my gullet, which would eventually build up pressure down there and send me into a steady fit of building hiccups until I’d be forced to adjourn to a bathroom and, uh, reverse engines so to speak. Fun stuff, especially when it would happen at dinner parties or restaurants. Compounding the dilemma was the subsequent worry while bent over a toilet that I may have had some sort of ulcer or cancer. The good news was that when it happened, I could usually bring up only the stuff stuck, leaving alone whatever had made it into my stomach. Usually.

But as time went on and  I became more aware of its onset, I’d simply stop eating when I felt the constriction beginning. More often than not if there wasn’t more than a biteful of food in transit, things would remain manageable and eventually my esophagus — like a doorman before a velvet rope at a Club Stomach — would relent and let the food pass and I could continue my meal without further interruption.

Eventually, I narrowed down the source to white rice. Of course, that didn’t stop me from eating white rice, such as last night when I got home late from work and sat down at my desk to a plate of breaded tilapia, corn and rice Susan had left on the stove for me.

Almost immediately I felt the sensation, but I was really hungry and this time I stupidly kept on eating. Sure enough within a few minutes I was sitting there hiccuping until I had to get to the bathroom and, uh… yeah: expunge.

After all that joy, sitting back at my desk I typed “goddam esophagus allergies,” into the Google slot of my browser  window, which I’m sure I’d typed countless times before but with no specific result. This time, thanks perhaps to the “goddam,” up popped several sources of information on EE, including the nugget that it’s a “newly recognized” disease.

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) is an allergic inflammatory disease characterized by elevated eosinophils in the esophagus. EE is a newly recognized disease that over the past decade has been increasingly diagnosed in children and adults. This increase is thought to reflect an increase in diagnosis as well as a true increase in EE cases. Fortunately, the medical community is responding and new scientific information is emerging to guide management of this disorder, which often persists with ongoing or recurrent symptoms.

Eosinophilic esophagitis is characterized by a large number of eosinophils and inflammation in the esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach).  These eosinophils persist despite treatment with acid blocking medicines.

The good news is that from what from the information I’ve digested (ha!) EE doesn’t seem to be something that becomes something worse. That good news is made better because the bad news is for an official diagnosis I’d have endure an endoscopic exam with biopsies taken from one end of my digestive tract to the other.Don’t ya know that’s at the top of my Things To Do list.

I may get that done some day, but for now, the best treatment is to Stay The Hell Away From Rice. It has  happened with other foods, but rice (or whatever is in rice that triggers the affliction) is the primary culprit.