Eosinophilic gastroenteritis may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to the rectum. Symptoms include dysphagia (sometimes presenting as food impaction), heartburn, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and bloating (ascites is possible). The eosinophilic infiltration may involve one or more layers of the gastrointestinal wall. The particular symptoms present in each case depend upon the layer and the location of involvement. Most commonly, the stomach wall and the small bowel are involved. Mucosal involvement leads to protein-losing enteropathy and malabsorption. Muscle layer involvement causes abdominal pain, vomiting, dyspeptic symptoms and bowel obstruction. Subserosal involvement predominantly causes ascites with marked eosinophilia. Sometimes eosinophilic pleural effusion is present. Eosiniphilic gastroenteritis is a chronic, waxing and waning condition.
The exact cause of eosinophilic gastroenteritis is unknown. Some cases of this disease may be caused by a hypersensitivity to certain foods or other unknown allergens. Often, a family history of allergy is present.
Eosinophilic gastroenteritis is a rare disease (10/100.000) that affects both males and females, but is more common among men. Peak prevalence is in children and adults (20-50 years). The reported prevalence has increased markedly, especially of eosinophilic esophagitis. This is probably due to prior under-diagnosis. People with a history of allergies, eczema, and seasonal asthma are more likely to develop this disease.
A careful history may suggest to the physician that a biopsy is required. The results of the biopsy (endoscopic or full-thickness surgical biopsy) are usually diagnostic.
The corticosteroid drug prednisone is usually an effective treatment for eosinophilic gastroenteritis. Sometimes budesonide can be helpful. Immunosuppressive drugs like azathioprine may be worth trying. Topical steroids can be helpful in eosinophilic esophagitis. Eliminating foods to which a person is allergic may prove helpful in some cases. Surgery may be necessary in severe cases in which there is an obstruction of the intestines. Other treatment is symptomatic and supportive.
Information on current clinical trials is posted on the Internet at www.clinicaltrials.gov. All studies receiving U.S. Government funding, and some supported by private industry, are posted on this government web site.
For information about clinical trials being conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, contact the NIH Patient Recruitment Office:
Tollfree: (800) 411-1222
TTY: (866) 411-1010
For information about clinical trials sponsored by private sources, contact:
For information about clinical trials conducted in Europe, contact:
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the NIH is conducting a clinical research study involving people with eosinophilic gastroenteritis. The study seeks to investigate omalizumab as a possible treatment for people with this disorder. For information, contact the NIH Patient Recruitment Office listed above.
Lucendo AJ, Arias A. Eosinophilic gastroenteritis: an update. Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2012;6:591-601 .
Prussin C. Eosinophilic gastroenteritis and related eosinophilic disorders. Gastroenterol Clin N Am 2014;43:317-327,
Collins MH. Histopathologic features of eosinophilic esophagitis and eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases. Gastroenterol Clin N Am 2014:43:257-268
Ingle SB, Hinge CR. Eosinophilic gastroenteritis: An unusual type of gastroenteritis. World J Gastroenterol 2013; 21;19(31): 5061-5066
Abdulrahman AA. Storr MA. Shaff EA.Eosinophilic colitis: an update on pathophysiology and treatment. British Medical Bulletin 2011; 100: 59–72.
Reed C. Woosley JT. Dellon ES. Clinical characteristics, treatment outcomes, and resource utilizationin children and adults with eosinophilic gastroenteritis. Dig Liver Dis. 2014 Nov 24. pii: S1590-8658
Nguyen MN T, Szpakowski J-L. Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis.Medscape. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/174100-overview . Updated December 14, 2014. . Accessed April 20, 2015.