This week marks the 6th Annual National Eosinophil Awareness Week! This special week, honored each year during the third full week of May, was designated to create awareness of and educate others about eosinophil associated diseases (EADs), an emerging healthcare problem worldwide for which there is no cure.
Eosinophil (E-o-‘si-n-o-“fil) associated diseases occur when levels of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, are elevated in certain areas of the body. Eosinophils play an important role in the immune system, helping to fight off certain types of infections and parasites. These cells respond to triggers (e.g., food and airborne allergens) by releasing toxins into the affected area. The diagnosis depends on where the eosinophils cause damage:
- Eosinophilic Cystitis: bladder
- Eosinophilic Fasciitis: connective tissue
- Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders:
- Eosinophilic Colitis: large intestine
- Eosinophilic Esophagitis: esophagus
- Eosinophilic Gastritis: stomach
- Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis: stomach and small intestine
- Eosinophilic Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis, aka Churg-Strauss Syndrome: lungs, sinuses, heart, various organ systems
- Eosinophilic Pneumonia: lungs
- Hypereosinophilic Syndrome: blood and any organ
The most common of these, eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders, affect the gastrointestinal tract, rendering the patient unable to tolerate food proteins. Treatments for these disorders include restricted diets or total food elimination, requiring patients to live off an elemental formula (taken either orally or via a feeding tube), and/or steroid treatments.
EADs affect people of all ages, require lifelong treatment, and can significantly impact quality of life. Due to the lack of information and awareness, patients often suffer for years without an accurate diagnosis and access to appropriate treatment.
The American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED) is honoring National Eosinophil Awareness Week by spearheading the movement to unite patients and families, patient organizations, medical institutions and societies, health care providers, and companies that support the EAD community. To reduce delays in diagnosis, and to fund important research that will lead to improved testing and treatments, we are working harder than ever to help the public, the medical community, and lawmakers understand the challenges faced by patients who have these diseases.
Visit https://www.apfed.org/ to learn more, to download materials to help with awareness and education efforts, to access APFED’s online community for patients and caregivers, and for details about upcoming events, such as APFED’s 11th Annual Patient Education Conference for Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders, June 28-30 in Philadelphia, PA.