Eosinophilia refers to a medical condition caused due to higher-than-normal increase in eosinophils- a type of white blood cell. Eosinophils support your body’s immune system in fighting diseases and are produced by the multipotent hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow.
The increased production is often the result of allergic reactions or fungal and parasitic infections. However, some medical conditions or medications can also cause eosinophils to rise.
In normal conditions, your blood does not have a large number of eosinophils. The average levels of these cells are 0-500 cells per microliter of your blood or 5 per cent of your white blood cells. However, in some cases, the production of eosinophils can increase and reach your blood, organs, or tissues like the heart, lungs, oesophagus, or intestines leading to tissue damage or chronic inflammation.
Read on to understand eosinophilia's causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
Eosinophilia Causes: What can Lead to this Condition?
Myriad health conditions lead to an increase in eosinophil count in the body. Seasonal allergies, parasitic infections, medications and asthma are some common causes of the disease. However, autoimmune diseases and hereditary genetic changes can also lead to higher eosinophil count.
Here is a detailed explanation of eosinophilia causes:
Parasitic infections: Parasitic infections are one of the most commonly occurring infections around the world and are often related to eosinophilia. These include trichinosis, strongyloidiasis, ascariasis, and schistosomiasis. Parasitic infections are usually caused due to travelling. However, a lack of a recent travel history cannot rule out the occurrence of these infections.
Atopy: Atopy refers to the exaggerated production of IgE (Immunoglobulin E) antibodies in response to harmless substances in the surroundings. It is a type of allergic reaction occurring in the body and usually refers to asthma, eczema, or seasonal allergies. These conditions are the most common causes of eosinophilia. Some food allergies can also cause eosinophil count to rise.
Medications: Eosinophilia can also be caused due to certain medications. However, there may be no obvious symptoms. Some of the most common drugs that may lead to eosinophilia include antibiotics, anti-seizure drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or gout medications.
Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE): Eosinophilic Esophagitis is caused due to the spread of eosinophils to the oesophagus. More than 50% of people with EoE have increased eosinophil levels in their blood.
Churg-Strauss Syndrome: Churg-Strauss syndrome, also called eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis, is one of the causes of eosinophilia. Patients having the syndrome suffer from asthma or other lung diseases in the initial stages. Later they may develop eosinophilia and then vasculitis leading to inflammation of the blood vessels.
Hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES): Hypereosinophilic syndromes cause very high levels of eosinophil count that lead to organ damage. The organs impacted by the disease include the skin, gastrointestinal tract and lungs.
Cancers: Cancers, particularly blood cancers, can also cause high eosinophil count. Other cancers causing eosinophilia include lymphoma, leukaemia, and colorectal or lung cancer.
Eosinophilia Symptoms - How Does Eosinophilia Manifest
The eosinophilia symptoms depend on the cause of the increased eosinophil count. In cases of mild elevations in eosinophil levels, you may not have any symptoms.
However, some of the common symptoms of eosinophilia are as follows:
Diarrhoea in case of parasitic infections
A chronic cough
Paleness of the hands
What are the Types of Eosinophilia?
|Eosinophilia type||Affected area or organ|
|Eosinophilic cystitis||It is an eosinophilia disorder in the bladder|
|Eosinophilic fasciitis||It is an eosinophilia disorder in the fascia which is a connective tissue throughout the body|
|Eosinophilic pneumonia||It is an eosinophilia disorder affecting your lungs|
|Eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders (EGID)||EGID affects your oesophagus, stomach, and large and small intestine|
|Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA)||It is also referred to as Churg-Strauss syndrome and affects your heart, lungs, sinuses, and other organs|
|Hypereosinophilic syndrome||It is related to a continuous increase in the eosinophil count and affects your heart, skin, respiratory tract, and central nervous system|
What is Tropical Pulmonary Eosinophilia?
Tropical pulmonary eosinophilia, a clinical manifestation of lymphatic filariasis, is a parasitic infection caused by filarial roundworms. Humans are the common hosts. These worms live in the lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels, bloodstream and spleen. Transmitted through mosquitoes, TPE is mostly diagnosed in filariasis endemic regions such as Africa, Asia, South America and the Indian subcontinent. Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia timori and Brugia malayi are the three species that cause human lymphatic filariasis.
Symptoms of Tropical Pulmonary Eosinophilia
The symptoms of TPE include:
A persistent cough that aggravates during the night
Individuals having TPE may also suffer from enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, inguinal or axillae areas. Some other symptoms include wheezing and cough with bloody sputum.
Diagnoses of Tropical Pulmonary Eosinophilia
The diagnoses of tropical pulmonary eosinophilia include:
Travel history that supports exposure to lymphatic filariasis
Increase in the number of anti-filarial antibodies
An increased eosinophil count
An increased serum IgE levels
A clinical response to diethylcarbamazine
Peripheral blood negative for microfilariae
Treatment of Tropical Pulmonary Eosinophilia
While universal guidelines for the treatment of TPE do not exist, anti-filarial diethylcarbamazine is effective against the disease. Within 7-10 days of starting the doses, a dramatic fall in the eosinophil count is often witnessed.
The Diagnosis of Eosinophilia
The step-by-step diagnosis of eosinophilia is as follows**
History A careful history is taken into account like travelling to places where helminthiasis is common, and family history including myeloproliferative disorders, allergies or drug hypersensitivity.
Some of the symptoms that are inquired about include helminth infestation, respiratory or skin allergies, fever, joint pain, vasculitis of multiple organs and more.
Physical examination Physical examination may include a detailed examination of renal, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, respiratory and neurologic systems.
Findings like asthma, lung congestion, and skin rash indicate underlying health conditions like atopic diseases, pulmonary syndromes with eosinophilia, vasculitis, and myeloproliferative disorders.
Diagnostic tests The diagnosis of eosinophilia is done through a routine blood test known as CBC (Complete Blood Count) with a differential white blood cell count.
When eosinophil concentration in your body goes above the average range, the doctor will recommend further tests to find the underlying cause of the high count based on your symptoms.
For instance, Eosinophilic Esophagitis may cause difficulty in swallowing. Hence, the disease diagnosis may include a biopsy of the oesophagus.
Some of the tests that may be used to diagnose eosinophilia include
Peripheral blood smear in case of abnormal eosinophil count indicating myeloproliferative disorders
Specific serological tests for parasites
Parasite tests like thick and thin blood smears
Stool ova and parasite tests
Pulmonary function tests
Organ-specific tests like renal or hepatic function tests
Tissue biopsies for parasites like filariasis, Trichinella
Echocardiography in case of cardiac symptoms
Imaging tests depending on the symptoms of the organ affected like a CT scan of the abdomen or chest
Bone marrow aspirate examination
Cytogenetic tests for myeloproliferative disorders
Individuals having eosinophilia are treated through several medications depending on the cause of the condition.
Some of the methods for eosinophilia treatment include:
Observation in case of mild eosinophilia
Discontinuation of medicines in case medication is the cause of high eosinophil count
Anti-parasitic medications for parasitic infections
Anti-inflammatory medications in case of gastrointestinal disorders
Antihistamines for treating Eosinophilic Esophagitis
Therapy for eczema, asthma or allergies
Steroids in case of hypereosinophilic syndromes
How Can Eosinophilia be Prevented?
Precautions you can take to prevent eosinophilia are as follows:
Keep your surroundings clean and dust free
Maintain personal hygiene
Wash fruits and vegetables to avoid parasitic infections
Avoid uncooked meat
Avoid consumption of medicines that lead to allergies in your body
How to Reduce Eosinophil Count?
You can reduce the eosinophil count either through medication or by changing your lifestyle and diet. Here’s how you can do that:
After diagnosing the cause of the eosinophil count in your body, the doctor will prescribe medicines to reduce the increased levels.
For example, in the case of eosinophilic asthma, the doctor may prescribe bronchodilators, corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers or biologics.
Anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended if the gastrointestinal disorder is the cause of the high eosinophil count.
A high eosinophil count can also be attributed to food allergies. Hence, paying attention to the components of your diet can also help reduce increased levels of eosinophils.
Some foods that can help tackle the disease are fruits, lean meats, vegetables and whole grains. Further, avoiding foods that may trigger allergic reactions can also help reduce high levels of eosinophils.
Some foods are acidic in nature, which may cause acid reflux and heartburn and eventually increased eosinophil levels. These foods include onions, mint, garlic, fried food or alcohol.
You can also reduce eosinophil count through lifestyle changes that may include:
Eating a healthy diet that includes ample amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables
Stress can worsen eosinophil count in the body. Hence, managing stress through meditation, yoga, or breathing techniques can help reduce eosinophil levels in the body
Reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking can help you manage eosinophilia
Avoid exposure to allergens
See a doctor and take prescribed medicines in case of seasonal allergies
Stop consuming medications that are causing your eosinophil levels to rise
Home remedies to reduce eosinophil count naturally
Eosinophils are types of white blood cells that help your body fight off infections by inducing inflammation. A high eosinophil count may sound worrying but it is a normal response of your body to expel foreign bodies. Here are some home remedies you can follow to reduce your eosinophil count:
Consume more ginger and turmeric as they have anti-inflammatory properties. You can add some crushed ginger to tea and turmeric to milk
Individuals with low vitamin D levels are more commonly affected by eosinophilia. You can sit in the sun at least twice a week to boost your vitamin D intake. You can also consume vitamin D3 supplements to increase your vitamin D levels
Inhalation of steam can help you clear the mucus in the nasal passage
The Need for Medical Insurance from Tata AIG
The ever-increasing pressures of today’s lifestyle have led to an exponential rise in health-related issues. While the causes for eosinophilia are many, high levels of eosinophils in your blood or tissues can lead to serious health impacts. Depending on the underlying cause, you may require suitable treatment at the right time.
However, from diagnosis and medications to hospitalisation and surgery, the skyrocketing medical costs pose a challenge to availing quality treatment. Hence, it is imperative to buy suitable health insurance to stay prepared for life’s exigencies. A health insurance plan offers you the required financial support after the diagnosis of a serious health ailment and helps meet the rising costs of healthcare services.
With the Tata AIG health insurance plan, you can avail of extensive coverage that includes pre-existing diseases, pre-hospitalization and post-hospitalization costs, and ambulance charges. While ensuring seamless delivery of high-quality services, our health insurance plans come with the following benefits:**
Paperless procedure: We ensure that you don’t have to stand in long queues to buy or renew your medical insurance policy. With Tata AIG, you can compare, buy and renew health plans through a simple online process. You will get your health insurance policy documents via WhatsApp or email. Moreover, we allow you to pay your health insurance premiums and claim filing from the comfort of your home.
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Frequently Asked Question
How serious is eosinophilia?
The severity of eosinophilia depends on eosinophil count; the disease can be mild, moderate or severe. While high eosinophil counts can be attributed to an underlying drug reaction or allergy, serious health conditions like blood disorders can also cause eosinophilia. In some cases, many eosinophils can collect in specific areas leading to inflammation affecting several body parts. However, some of the causes are not serious and require no treatment.
What are the most common causes of eosinophilia?
The most common causes of eosinophilia include parasitic infections and allergic reactions to certain medications.
What are eosinophils, and what diseases do they fight against?
Eosinophils refer to a type of white blood cells that help our immune system in fighting off diseases or infections that include:
Fungal and parasitic diseases
Bone marrow disorders
Where are eosinophils produced in the body?
Eosinophils are produced from the multipotent hematopoietic stem cells present in the bone marrow.
Is eosinophilia curable?
Eosinophilia is caused by underlying diseases or infections, many of which are curable. However, some health conditions that lead to an abnormal rise in eosinophils, like leukaemia or lung cancer, are serious.
What food should I avoid to reduce eosinophil count?
Avoiding foods that may trigger allergic reactions can help reduce high levels of eosinophils. Some foods are acidic in nature, which causes acid reflux and heartburn and eventually leads to an increase in eosinophil levels. These include onions, mint, garlic, fried food or alcohol.
Should I worry about the high eosinophil count in my body?
Eosinophils are white blood cells that help your body fight off infections by inducing inflammation. A high eosinophil count may sound worrying, but it is a normal response of your body to expel foreign bodies. The eosinophil level may decrease when the underlying reason for the high eosinophil count is addressed. Further changing your lifestyle and food habits can also help tackle eosinophilia.