Sunday, October 25, 2009

Eosinophilic Esophagitis

It's been four weeks, and I've only had beer three times.

Last June, I began noticing that sometimes I felt like I had a lump in my throat. A long time sufferer of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), as well as being plagued with seasonal allergies since I was young, I figured it was related these conditions. When it didn't dissipate after several months, my doctor suggested I have an endoscopy to examine it further.

Upon seeing ridges in my esophagus, a biopsy confirmed that I had a disease called eosinophilic esophagitis. While little is known about EE, preliminary research shows that it's generally caused by food allergies, in which your body, sensing that something is wrong with your esophagus, sends white blood cells to take care of the problem. The result is the hardening of your esophagus.

The GI doctor recommended that I use a steroid inhaler to reduce the inflammation, which is proven to correct the symptoms. Reading that food allergies is often to blame, I asked about further testing, and was told that no, they don't typically try to find the cause. I brought this to my primary physician, at which point she ordered the further testing.

You may be wondering at this point what this has to do with beer. Well, 30-odd pricks on my back with various food derivatives showed that I was potentially allergic to three foods: peaches, tomatoes and hops.

Yes, I catch the irony.

To make sure the results weren't a false positive, I was directed to eliminate the foods from my diet for up to 6 weeks, and then introduce them to see how my body reacted. And unfortunately, each time I've had beer, the following day I felt like I had something caught in my throat.

So I've been drinking a lot more wine, cider and spirits, but they don't do to my palate what beer does. Gruits--beer bittered with herbs and spices instead of hops--are pleasant, but there are only a couple in our market and they're pretty spendy to have as a session beer. Soon, I'll be getting in touch with Minnesota's local brewers to urge them to try this style of old once in awhile :)

I'll be discussing the future with my allergist in more detail, and hopefully, be able to come to some resolve that allows me to drink low-hopped beers and the occasional IPA, barley wine or imperial stout. But I know one thing is clear: beer will have to become a less-frequent part of my diet.


Kris said...

Sorry to hear that but thanks for sharing, Eric. I was wondering what was up when you said you were "off beer." I'm glad to hear it isn't something more serious although it's still a huge blow.

Anonymous said...

Well i know it sucks and all, but just remember it could have been worse, like Cancer or something!

Although beer is king of the alcohol world, wine and spirits have some worth too.

Erik said...

I guess I will have to come and clean out your beer cellar for you then.

donaldosborn said...

Sucks balls!
so sorry to hear more continued info about this condition.

Campbell Consulting said...

Hey Eric,

Sorry to hear about your new-found diet, I can't drink wine too often - but a glass here and there is still OK!

There is a new beer being brewed in MSP - Monk's Blood from 21st Amendment Brewery in SFO. If you're up for it - let me know if I can send you the press release and some product and images.

Shoot me an email at (Campbell Consulting does PR for 21A).


Mike85 said...

I also suffer from EE and also found the same thing happen to me the morning after a big night(especially when I had a few pints of beer)

The doctor who diagnosed me with EE also said I shouldn't try to find the cause, but I have also cut beer from my diet.

Good to know there is someone in my boat, dying for a beer but opting for the not so manly cider.

Anyway, hope the EE stays away and hopefully they get some drugs that can sort it out.


RV said...

I'm sorry to hear that as well. I've got the same problem, and I'm using the inhaler, but after several weeks without beer, having one caused all the symptoms to come back. Without beer, i'm fine. Too bad it couldn't have been liver or something else I don't like.

Anonymous said...

I too suffer from EE. My diet consists of turkey, rice and greens because pretty much anything else caused problems. Beer is a huge negative for me, I used to drink beer all the time but no more. I'm going to try drinking hard liquor now, mostly tequila because it seems to be the only fool proof way to avoid grains. Do you have an update?


Anonymous said...

Same experience here. Lump in throat...issues swallowing at random times...generic discomfort. Turns out it was EE. Allergy test showed Barley and Peanuts as the allergens. Devastated! I'm on red wine, tequila, hard ciders, and the only beer I drink is Glutenberg which is as close to an IPA without barley as i could find. Curious about something...I wonder if the component in barley that causes the EE is either minimized or eliminated through certain brewing processes. For example...I recall Guiness and darker IPAs not causing much of a reaction but lighter beers causing one. Scotch caused issues but Whiskey not as much. Maybe its the quanity i was drinking. Anyone else found varying reactions based on the barley malted beverage type?

Janice said...

Diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis? Gastroenterologists propose the removal of certain foods in your diet – foods that are considered to be factors in allergic diseases. If you’re thinking about trying this out, these six food items include milk, seafood (fish/shellfish), wheat, soy, egg, and peanuts/treenuts. click here for more details

Anonymous said...

Any updates on your eosinophilic esophagitis? What beers can you drink without symptoms?