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What is Hypereosinophilic Syndrome?

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  • Written By: Deneatra Harmon
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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Hypereosinophilic syndrome is a rare blood disease that causes an overproduction of eosinophil, or white blood cells, which can damage tissues and organs, such as the heart and liver. Causes of this blood disorder have yet to be discovered. Symptoms of hypereosinophilic syndrome mock those of other medical conditions, making it difficult for doctors to diagnose. Treatment depends on the severity as well as the affected organs in the body.

Also known as hypereosinophilia, HS, or HES, hypereosinophilic syndrome is considered a rare condition with very few cases occurring each year. According to medical experts, hypereosinophilic syndrome usually appears in patients between the ages of 20 and 50. HES affects the body by producing too many eosinophils, which are white blood cells that normally ward off allergies and infections in the body. When the body produces more eosinophil than it can handle, the cells spill into the bloodstream and gather in different parts of the body, such as in tissues and organs. The end result can cause enlargement and damage to the heart, liver, spleen, and other organs.

Causes of hypereosinophilia remain unknown. Research indicates that HES may be genetic and that in some patients, a "fusion gene" forms and creates a kinase protein. This protein reportedly causes multiplication of blood cells such as eosinophils.

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Hypereosinophilic syndrome has a variety of symptoms, which may affect patients differently, depending on which organs or tissues are affected by the illness. Common symptoms of HES include tiredness, fever, shortness of breath, and a cough. The blood disease may also cause muscle pain and rashes on the body. Thorough medical testing must be administered to confirm HES because these symptoms share similarities with other medical conditions.

Doctors usually conduct a medical examination to detect organ damage and perform a complete blood cell count test to diagnose hypereosinophilic syndrome. Doctors must also follow three requirements, or criteria, for confirming a diagnosis. If a person experiences a high eosinophil count for at least six months, then that indicates hypereosinophilic syndrome. White blood cell counts are considered high if they are more than 1,500 per microliter. Doctors must also rule out other factors, such as an allergy or infection, and evidence of organ failure must be present to diagnose HES.

Upon diagnosis, hypereosinophilic syndrome can be treated with medications, but the disease cannot be eradicated from the body. Some patients receive high doses of steroids to effectively treat HES. Other patients may receive anticancer therapies or medications that suppress the immune system.

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