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Eosinophilia

Eosinophilia is the formation and accumulation of an abnormally high number of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) in the blood or body tissues. ...

condition

Definition

Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell. These white blood cells help to protect the body from certain types of infections and are involved in allergic responses. Eosinophils are created in the bone and move through the body in the blood.

Eosinophilia is an abnormally high number of these white blood cells. There may be high levels of eosinophils in the blood, in the tissue, or both.

There are several types of eosinophilia including:

  • Familial eosinophilia—caused by problems in genes that control eosinophil growth
  • Secondary eosinophilia—related to a parasitic infection, autoimmune reaction, allergic, or other inflammatory illnesses
  • Primary eosinophilia—change in production of eosinophils associated with certain leukemias or chronic myeloid disorders such as myelodysplastic syndrome

White Blood Cells

White Blood Cells
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Causes

Eosinophilia may be caused by an illness to a specific area or an overproduction of these cells. The cause will vary based on type of eosinophilia. Causes include:

  • Allergy diseases, such as asthma, eczema, and allergic rhinitis
  • Diseases from parasitic worms

Sometimes the cause of eosinophilia is not known.

Risk

A family history increases your chance of familial eosinophilia.

Conditions that increase your chance of secondary eosinophilia include:

Conditions that increase your chance of primary eosinophilia include:

Symptoms

Symptoms of eosinophilia are often those of the underlying condition. For example:

  • Asthma symptoms may include:
    • Wheezing
    • Breathlessness
  • Parasitic infection symptoms may include:
  • Medicine reaction symptoms may include:
    • Skin rashes

Rarer symptoms of eosinophilia may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Lymph node enlargement
  • Skin rashes
  • Numbness and tingling due to nerve damage
diagnosis

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a blood specialist.

Your bodily fluids, tissues, and waste may be tested. This can be done with:

  • A blood test
  • Biopsy
  • Stool tests
  • Bone marrow examination

Your bodily structures may need to be viewed. This can be done with:

  • Chest x-ray
  • CT scan of chest and abdomen
  • Bronchoscopy
treatment

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Primary and secondary eosinophilia can be managed by treating the underlying cause.

Idiopathic eosinophilia may be treated with corticosteroids. This group of medications can reduce inflammation and decrease the number of eosinophils. Corticosteroids may be taken in inhaled form, topical treatment, pills, or injections.

prevention

Prevention

There are steps you can take to lower your risk of eosinophilia caused by parasites or allergies:

  • Wash your hands often, especially:
    • After using the toilet
    • After changing a diaper
    • Before handling or eating food
    • After contact with animals or soil
    • After contact with infected people
  • Drink safe water. Boil water if you are unsure if it is safe.
  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming in recreational water.
  • Eat safe food. Wash vegetables that will be eaten raw.
  • Drink only pasteurized milk and juice.
  • Use precautions during sexual activity.
  • Avoid allergy triggers.
Care for Your Child

If your child has to see an allergy specialist, it's important that you visit a doctor who understands the needs of kids. 

At UVA, our doctors are experts in the special kind of care children need.

Learn more.

Asthma Care

We don't just treat symptoms. We use state-of-the-art therapies to treat the cause of your condition.

Asthma Care

For severe asthma that fails to respond to the usual drugs, we do a comprehensive evaluation of all the possible sources: sinus, reflux, allergies or sleep disorders. You may not even have asthma, but a vocal cord issue or sleep apnea. So it's a matter of discovering the right diagnosis before we begin treatment.

Our Specialties

Our specialties include treatment for:

  • Aspirin-related asthma: Our nationally known specialists offer a specific procedure to help treat this condition.
  • Acid reflux: We can test your breath for a possible relationship between your allergies and reflux.
  • Immune deficiencies: We specialize in identifying patients who have adult-onset deficiencies in their ability to fight infections — especially patients who might benefit from therapies to help them fight off those infections.
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