• Eosinophilia

    Definition

    Eosinophils is a type of white blood cell. These white blood cells help to protect the body from infections. Eosinophils are created in the bone and move through the body in the blood.
    Eosinophilia is an abnormally high number of these white blood cells. There may be high levels of eosinophils in the blood, in the tissue, or both. There are several types of eosinophilia based on the cause and symptoms.
    White Blood Cells
    White Blood Cells
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    Causes

    Eosinophilia may be caused by an injury or illness to a specific area or an overproduction of these cells. The cause will vary based on type of eosinophilia:
    • Familial eosinophilia—caused by problems in genes that control eosinophil growth
    • Secondary eosinophilia—related to an infection, autoimmune reaction, or other inflammatory illnesses
    • Primary eosinophilia—change in production of eosinophils associated with certain leukemias or chronic myeloid disorders such as myelodysplastic syndrome
    • Idiopathic eosinophilia—causes is not clear

    Risk Factors

    A family history increases your chance of familial eosinophilia.
    Conditions that increase your chance of secondary eosinophilia include:
    Conditions that increase your chance of primary eosinophilia include:

    Symptoms

    Symptoms of eosinophilia are often those of the underlying condition. For example:
      Asthma symptoms may include:
      • Wheezing
      • Breathlessness
      Parasitic infection symptoms may include: Medicine reaction symptoms may include:
      • Skin rashes
    Rarer symptoms of eosinophilia may include:
    • Weight loss
    • Night sweats
    • Lymph node enlargement
    • Skin rashes
    • Numbness and tingling due to nerve damage

    Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a blood specialist.
    Eosinophil levels maybe measured through:
    Other tests will depend on the underlying condition. Your doctor may order:

    Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Primary and secondary eosinophilia can be managed by treating the underlying cause.
    Idiopathic eosinophilia may be treated with corticosteroids. This group of medications can reduce inflammation and decrease the number of eosinophils. Corticosteroids may be taken in inhaled form, topical treatment, pills, or injections.

    Prevention

    Cause of eosinophilia is not always clear. As a result, there are no specific steps to prevent eosinophilia.

    RESOURCES

    American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology http://www.aaaai.org

    American Lung Association http://www.lungusa.org

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Allergy Asthma Information Association http://aaia.ca

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

    References

    Brigden ML. A practical workup for eosinophilia. Postgraduate Medicine website. Available at: http://www.postgradmed.com/issues/1999/03%5F99/brigden.htm . Accessed July 26, 2005.

    Eosinophilia. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy website. Available at: http://www.merck.com/mrkshared/mmanual/section11/chapter136/136b.jsp . Accessed July 26, 2005.

    Tefferi A. Blood Eosinophilia: A New Paradigm in Disease Classification, Diagnosis and Treatment. Mayo Clin Proc. January 2005;80(1):75-83

    Revision Information

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