Stories about: eosinophilic esophagitis

Our patients’ stories: understanding (and beating) eosinophilic esophagitis

As an infant, Cameron Newbold hated eating. That’s not to say he was a finicky eater like some babies; he actually dreaded feeding times.

“Anytime we tried to feed him he’d freeze up, stiff as a board,” remembers his mother Kristina. “It was like he knew the food was making him sick. It was terrible.”

During feedings, Cameron cried, squirmed and would never eat more than a few ounces at a time. At 5 weeks old, he was hospitalized because he stopped eating, but a conclusive diagnosis couldn’t be found. The Newbolds left their local hospital with medication for reflux, a child who was still sick and few answers.

Over the next few years, Cameron was tested for dairy aversion and various food allergies, but most of the testing was inconclusive. He lived almost exclusively off soy yogurt (Kristina believes the cool, smooth food was soothing to him) and often felt too sick to play with other children, which affected how he related to his peers.

“Looking back now, it’s clear that Cameron felt sick just about all the time when he was younger,” Kristina says. “But because that’s all he had ever known, he didn’t really know how to express his discomfort, or when he felt worse than usual. As far as he knew, constantly feeling awful was what life was.”

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Taste test

When describing how most kids react to a plate of their least favorite foods, the term melodramatic would be an understatement.

“If I have one more bite of broccoli, I’m going to be sick!”

“Yuck! Spinach again? It makes me gag.”

But for a small portion of kids, these terms aren’t exaggerations; they’re medically accurate statements.

Cameron Ledin is one of those children. The 8-year-old was recently diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), a severe allergic inflammation of the esophagus that causes his body to have terrible reactions to a wide range of foods. When a person with EoE eats, his immune system can mistake certain foods as invaders. This causes white blood cells to attack the throat, and can lead to terrible pain in the stomach, joints and head.

EoE is rare and difficult to diagnose, especially in young children who can’t clearly express what they’re feeling. Complicating things even more, EoE symptoms often change over time, or won’t occur for hours or days after the person has been exposed to a trigger food, making it hard to pinpoint exactly what caused an inflammation. With so many variables involved, differentiating EoE from other food allergies or gastrointestinal issues is very tricky.

In Cameron’s case, proper diagnosis took years of testing.

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Our patients’ stories: living with severe food allergies

Did you see WCBV’s 11 O’clock news last night? If so you met Cameron Ledin, a patient at Boston Children’s Hospital.

We were so impressed with the Ledins we had Cameron’s mother, Kim, write a blog post about what it’s like raising a child with severe food allergy.

By Kim Ledin

Cameron at Boston Children's

Cameron is a smart, energetic 8-year-old boy. These are the words I use to describe him, even though some people might define him by the medical condition that has shaped his young life. Cam was recently diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), an allergic condition that causes his throat to seize up when he eats. When a person with EoE eats, his body mistakes food as an invader. With every bite white blood cells attack the throat, causing it to tighten up while often creating terrible stomach, head and joint pain.

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