- Eosinophilia is a condition that is associated with high levels of eosinophils, a particular group of disease-fighting white blood cells, in the blood or body tissues.
- Common eosinophilia causes include parasitic infections, asthma, allergic rhinitis (or seasonal allergies), atopic dermatitis (also known as eczema) and certain types of cancers.
- Symptoms of eosinophilia are synonymous with its causes. They can range from skin rashes and wheezing/coughs to abdominal pain and diarrhea depending on the underlying cause of eosinophilia. In case you happen to show some of these symptoms, a specialised doctor on MFine will be able to provide you with an accurate diagnosis of your condition.
- Blood eosinophilia is measured by an absolute eosinophil count or (AEC). The normal AEC count is anywhere between 40-400 cells per microliter of blood. A count of greater than 500 cells/ml is indicative of eosinophilia. Tissue eosinophilia is diagnosed with a biopsy of the affected area. X-rays, CT scans and MRIs are used to find out the underlying cause of eosinophilia, its location and origin.
- High eosinophil levels indicate tissue inflammation or organ damage. A high eosinophil count for a prolonged period may indicate hypereosinophilic syndrome. A low eosinophil count is indicative of alcohol intoxication or the overproduction of cortisol often linked with Cushing syndrome.
- Treatment is carried out depending on the respective eosinophilia cause. Treatment for mild cases include observation and monitoring. Other treatments include discontinuation of certain medications, therapy for asthma and atopical disorders and administering anti-parasitic medications. Hypereosinophilic syndrome is treated by corticosteroids that help in reducing eosinophils in the body. Consult a doctor on MFine who will be able to provide you with a treatment plan suited to your specific condition.
Chapter 1: What is Eosinophilia?
Eosinophilia is a condition that is associated with high levels of eosinophils in the blood or bodily tissues. Eosinophils are a specific type of white blood cells that play an important role in fighting diseases and warding off infections in the body. Your body has the ability to handle eosinophil levels between a certain range in the blood. However, when the total eosinophil count exceeds the normal range, it can cause inflammation. People with eosinophilia can experience symptoms like skin rashes, wheezing, and coughs and even abdominal pain and diarrhea in some cases.
White blood cells in your body are vital to your body’s immune system. White blood cells are often released by the body to fight off infections . The human body does not usually produce an excess amount of eosinophils in blood. Therefore, when then the body releases more than the usual amount, it is usually indicative of an infection that may be present.
Eosinophilia can affect both adults and children. The next few chapters feature the discussion of eosinophilia causes, symptoms, treatments and diagnosis in further detail.
Chapter 2: Eosinophilia Causes and Symptoms: An Overview
There are several reasons for high eosinophils levels in the body. Some eosinophilia causes are benign and require minimal treatment while some can be severe.
The most common causes of eosinophilia include,
- Parasitic infections
- Allergic Disorders
- Certain types of cancers
Parasitic infections are one of the most common eosinophilia causes that occur primarily in tropical regions of the world. Primarily soil-transmitted helminths, for eg. hookworms are among some parasites that cause eosinophilia. They invade human tissues and are seen to migrate through them during their life cycle. The increased eosinophil count is dependent on this dynamic interaction and the levels can vary depending on host factors, the stage of development of the parasite, its location in the human body.
Eosinophilia causes encompass various allergic disorders as well. Some common allergies that are known to elevate eosinophils in blood can be classified into 4 categories:
1. Reactions to certain medications or drugs: Certain medications or drugs tend to render eosinophils count high cause of the ability to trigger an allergic response in the human body. This generally differs from person to person. It often manifests in the body as skin rashes. Symptoms include redness, blisters, bumps, hives accompanied by itching, pain and in some cases peeling. Some types of drugs causing eosinophilia tend to have no reaction or trace of symptoms in people. However, antibiotics, such as cephalosporins and penicillin; steroid-free anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen and aspirin; allopurinol, a medication used in treating gout; and an anti-seizure medication known as phenytoin are among other drugs causing eosinophilia that often accompany an allergic reaction in individuals.
2. Asthma: Asthma is a condition that is associated with breathing difficulty, trigger coughs and wheezing due to extra mucus produced by airways that are narrow or swollen. One of the common causes of eosinophilia, some see asthma as a minor issue, however, for some people, asthma can be a major problem that often interferes with their daily life. Eosinophilic asthma is a case of severe eosinophilia that usually affects adults. This condition occurs due to severe inflammation in the respiratory system caused by a higher than normal eosinophil count in the area. The symptoms of eosinophilic asthma are harder to manage and a person with this condition is likely to experience frequent asthma attacks. Normal asthmatic medications even in high doses sometimes fail to have an effect in reducing its symptoms.
3. Allergic Rhinitis (also known as seasonal allergies): Eosinophilia causes also include seasonal allergies - your body’s response to a trigger in your surroundings or natural environment. Allergic rhinitis forms one of the reasons for high eosinophils in the body. Dust, pollen, grass, trees, animals and moulds can cause irritation that flare-up in the form of coughs, sneezes, wheezes, running nose, watery eyes, itching, headaches and swollen eyelids.
4. Atopic dermatitis (also commonly known as eczema): This condition is associated with the inflammation of the skin. Here the inflammation of the upper layer of the skin and high eosinophils count go hand in hand. Red skin rashes form on the scalp, hands, face, arms, legs and feet, and tend to ooze or crust and often cause pain.
There are several types of cancers known to cause eosinophilia. Some common cancers include:
1. Acute Myeloid Leukemia - this is a type of blood and bone marrow cancer and affects the production and development of blood cells. In this condition, the bone marrow ends up producing large amounts of abnormal white blood cells that lack the ability to function properly and in turn hinder the functioning of the surrounding healthy cells. People suffering from this condition have a total eosinophil count that is much greater than what is normal.
2. Ovarian Cancer - this type of cancer associated with the presence of a tumour in the ovaries. In the human body, the likelihood of ovarian cancer triggering an increased eosinophil count is high compared to other tumour-related cancers.
3. Hodgkin’s lymphoma - is a type of cancer associated with the lymphatic system. It starts when a disease-fighting white blood cell called a lymphocyte develops a mutation. In the body, this tends to render eosinophils count high cause of rapid multiplication of cells which eventually lead to a large amount of white blood cells in the bloodstream.
Other eosinophilia causes may include:
- Scarlet fever
- Crohn’s disease
- Body’s rejection of an organ transplant
- Other autoimmune diseases
The symptoms may be determined based on the part of the body that has been affected. People with mild cases of eosinophilia may not experience any symptoms. High eosinophil count symptoms are usually cognizant with the common symptoms that accompany eosinophilia causing conditions. They include:
- Rashes and itching, as a result of eczema
- Diarrhoea and abdominal pain, in case of parasite-related infections
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, coughs in case of Asthma
- Runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes in the case of seasonal allergies
Chapter 3: How is Eosinophilia diagnosed?
Lab tests aid in accurately diagnosing eosinophilia and help in identifying the underlying eosinophilia causes in the patient. A complete blood count test (CBC) is the first step in the eosinophilia diagnosis. The number of eosinophils in blood is identified from a part of the CBC test known as the white blood cell differential. If the differential shows abnormalities, your doctor might recommend doing another eosinophil test called absolute eosinophil count. An allergy risk assessment test on MFine includes the complete blood count and absolute eosinophil count test and can help in identifying the underlying cause of eosinophilia in patients.
The absolute eosinophil count or (AEC) is a type of blood test that accurately measures the number of eosinophils in the blood. Upto 6% of the human blood comprises of eosinophils. The normal eosinophil level or the normal AEC count in healthy individuals ranges anywhere between 40-400 cells per microliter of blood. An eosinophil count of greater than 500 cells per microlitre of blood is indicative of eosinophilia.
Mild eosinophilia is when the total eosinophil count range lies anywhere between 500-1500 cells/ml.
Moderate eosinophilia is indicated eosinophil count range lies between 1500-5000 cells/ml.
Severe eosinophilia is indicated by the total eosinophil count exceeding 5000 cells/ml. This is well above the normal eosinophil level in a person.
A normal AEC count in the blood may not mean the same in the tissues. If symptoms are evident, a diagnosis may include a biopsy to check for elevated higher than normal eosinophil levels in the tissues.
What does a high eosinophil count mean?
High eosinophil levels are mostly indicative of all allergy-induced inflammation or damage to one or many organs in the body. The skin, lungs, heart and nervous system are organs that are affected more frequently. An eosinophil count range higher than normal for a prolonged period of time may be indicative of hypereosinophilic syndrome.
Hypereosinophilic syndrome is a rare disorder that is associated with an eosinophil cell count of more than 1500 cells/ml over a duration of 6 months or longer. Hypereosinophilia causes are usually unclear. This condition can present itself in anyone no matter the age. However, it is seen more often in men over the age of 50. High eosinophils causes severe inflammation and often has the ability to damage multiple organs in the body leading to the malfunctioning of the same.
What does a low eosinophil count mean?
A low eosinophil count is indicative of possessing lower than normal levels of eosinophils in the blood. Causes of low eosinophils in the blood are alcohol intoxication or the overproduction of cortisol often linked with Cushing syndrome. Otherwise, low eosinophil counts are generally not of major concern as the body’s immune system along with other body parts are able to compensate for its lack.
Eosinophilia can occur in any part of the body and so eosinophilia disorders are often diagnosed based on the location of the eosinophil build-up in the body. For example, eosinophilic esophagitis is a disorder that is caused due to high levels of eosinophils present in the oesophagus. Similarly, pulmonary eosinophilia pertains to eosinophilia of the lungs and respiratory system, eosinophilic colitis pertains to the large intestine, eosinophilic gastritis, to the stomach, and so on.
The diagnosis process is also based on the location of eosinophilic disorders in the body. Further lab tests may include:
- Complete Blood Count Test
- Absolute Eosinophil Count through which the exact levels of eosinophils in the blood can be identified
- Allergy Panels through which allergies to particular substances can be detected
- Stool tests through which parasites that cause eosinophilia infections can be identified.
- Genetic tests through which gene mutations can be detected, especially those that are attributed to hypereosinophilia causes.
Imaging tests may also be conducted to check the condition of your internal organs such as:
1. X-rays, which help in assessing lung condition
2. CT scans, that aid in identifying abnormalities in the chest, pelvis and abdomen regions; and
3. Echocardiograms and MRIs, that help in analysing heart function
Chapter 4: Treating Eosinophilia
Once eosinophilia causes are determined, treatment options are discussed according to the intensity of the symptoms and the location of the eosinophilic disorder. Treatment options include:
- Observation: this may be a treatment option for mild eosinophilia cases. Careful observation coupled with repeated tests over a time period can help you track whether the level of eosinophils is decreasing in the body.
- Discontinuing or changing certain medications: as reactions to certain medications have the ability to increase eosinophil levels, discontinuing them for a certain time period can help identify underlying eosinophilia causes and also assist the doctor in recommending alternate drugs or substitutes as a suitable eosinophilia medicine to help bring down eosinophil levels.
- Modifying therapy for asthma and atopical disorders: Treating asthma and skin disorders with its suitable eosinophilia medicines depending on its intensity can help with the reduction of eosinophil levels in the blood.
- Anti-parasitic medications: Administering anti-parasitic medications to destroy the parasites causing elevated eosinophil levels and tissue damage is another way to treat one of the major eosinophilia causes worldwide.
Treatment for high eosinophils levels in the blood such as hypereosinophilic syndrome is typically focused around reducing the level of eosinophils in the blood or tissues to avoid organ damage, especially the heart. Treatments may be specific to your case depending on the symptoms you exhibit, the intensity of the disorder and the underlying eosinophilia causes if known and so it is important to consult a doctor to discuss the appropriate treatment plan for you.
Usually, administering corticosteroids is preferred as the most effective treatment for high eosinophils in the blood as corticosteroids are known to significantly bring down the eosinophil count. Your doctor may also recommend blood thinners as the risk of blood clots are also high in patients with hypereosinophilia.
In conclusion, eosinophilia might look scary but in most people, this condition is usually mild and fades with minimal or no treatment. Having a good physician who can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan suited to your condition is important in eosinophilia cure and the long term prevention of eosinophilia.
Chapter 5: FAQs
What causes eosinophils count to be high?
There are many reasons for an increased eosinophil count in the body. Some major eosinophilia causes include parasitic infections, asthma allergic disorders such as season allergies, food allergies, eczema and other skin disorders, and certain types of cancers .
What are some of the causes of low eosinophils in the blood?
A low eosinophil count in the blood may signify alcohol intoxication or a link to Cushing’s syndrome that is commonly associated with the overproduction of a hormone known as cortisol which contributes to the lower than normal level of eosinophils in the blood.
What is the absolute eosinophil count normal value?
A normal absolute eosinophil count refers to the number of eosinophils that is normally present in a person who is healthy. An AEC count value that lies in between 40-400 eosinophil cells per ml of blood is considered normal.
How is eosinophilia treated? What are some of the eosinophilia medicines that are administered to affected patients?
Eosinophilia treatments differ from person to person depending on the symptoms, location of eosinophilia, underlying cause and the intensity of the condition. Mild cases are usually observed and monitored. Other treatments include discontinuation of certain medications causing allergic reactions, increasing treatment for asthma and atopical disorders, and administering anti-parasitic medication if the reason for eosinophilia in a patient was due to a parasitic infection. In cases of hypereosinophilia, corticosteroids are usually administered to bring down the level of eosinophils in the blood.
Are there any home remedies for eosinophilia?
There aren’t any home remedies for eosinophilia per se, at least ones that would cure eosinophilia. Eosinophilia home treatments may assist in managing symptoms however, it is important to consult a physician before implementing any eosinophilia home treatments of your own.