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Eosinophilia refers to the formation of excessively high amounts of eosinophils. Eosinophils are white blood cells, or WBCs, that are manufactured in bone marrow and found in the lining of the stomach and bloodstream. Typically, eosinophils contain certain proteins or substances that assist the body in fighting infection. Certain diseases, such as eosinophilic pneumonia, are generally caused by a large accumulation of eosinophils in lung tissue.
Generally, eosinophilia occurs in the presence of other medical conditions, such as allergic conditions. Some allergic conditions that may increase the incidence of eosinophilia include hay fever and asthma. Other causes may include vasculitis, lung disease and cirrhosis of the liver. Occasionally, rare skin disorders and certain tumors may contribute to the incidence of eosinophilia.
Typically, certain factors can increase the risk of developing eosinophilia. These risk factors may include, but are not limited to, side effects from prescription drugs, food allergies and eczema. Although these conditions may be risk factors for eosinophilia, most individuals who have them will not experience this condition. It may be prudent, however, to alert a physician if the patient has any risk factors, so he may be observed for possible symptoms.
Common symptoms associated with eosinophilia may include shortness of breath, wheezing and cough. Sometimes, diarrhea and abdominal pain may be present. Rare manifestations of this condition may include night sweats, weight loss and rashes. Generally, patients who experience these symptoms should not be assumed to have eosinophilia. Most of the time, symptoms are related to other, less ominous medical conditions. Even though this condition is not common, patients are advised to notify their physician if these symptoms occur.
Diagnosis may include blood tests to determine an over abundance of eosinophils in the blood, chest x-ray, and biopsy of the skin. Typically, a skin biopsy is performed to detect high concentrations of eosinophils in skin tissue. Occasionally, bone marrow testing and CT scanning of the abdomen and chest may also be ordered if symptoms present themselves. If the general physician fails to reach a diagnosis, he may refer the patient to a hematologist. Hematologists are physicians who specialize in conditions of the blood.
Treatment for high levels of eosinophils may include corticosteroid medication. Generally, corticosteroids are effective in managing allergic manifestations and lessening the quantity of eosinophils in the blood stream. These medications may be delivered via inhalation, topically or by injection. Treating this condition with steroid medication may be effective in alleviating symptoms, but corticosteroids may cause side effects. The benefits and risks should be discussed with a physician.
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