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Home > Services > Allergy > Allergies We Treat > Eosinophilia


Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell that helps 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


Causes of Eosinophilia

Eosinophilia may be caused by an illness to a specific area or an overproduction of these cells. The cause varies 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 unknown. 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:

  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome

Eosinophilia Symptoms

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

  • Asthma symptoms may include:
    • Wheezing
    • Breathlessness
  • Parasitic infection symptoms may include:
    • Abdominal pain
    • Diarrhea
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Rashes
  • 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 & Treatment

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical exam. You may undergo some tests, which include:

  • Blood tests
  • Biopsy
  • Stool tests
  • Bone marrow examination
  • Chest X-ray
  • CT scan of chest and abdomen
  • Bronchoscopy

You can manage primary and secondary eosinophilia by treating the underlying cause.

You can treat idiopathic eosinophilia 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.


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
  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming in recreational water
  • Drink only pasteurized milk and juice
  • Use precautions during sexual activity
  • Avoid allergy triggers

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Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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