Cincinnati Children's Blog

Kids with EoE often mislabeled as picky eaters

There were clues Zeke Angel had eosinophilic esophagitis, an allergic inflammatory condition, long before he could pronounce it. For years, his parents thought he had a sensitive stomach. It wasn’t until he became a teenager and grew sicker that he began seeing specialists at Cincinnati Children’s. That’s how his family learned more about his condition and how to deal with it.

The Texas teen has eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), a rare disease characterized by elevated levels of eosinophils (white blood cells) in the esophagus. The immune response makes the eosinophils attack the esophagus, causing pain and inflammation. Since this is National Eosinophil Awareness Week, we invite you to find out more about the condition by watching Zeke’s story.

“After we found out what his diagnosis was, we realized, absolutely, this started from the minute he put food in his mouth,” says his mom, Cindy. “He’s been severely allergic and reactive to foods his entire life.”

His condition even made him a reality TV star last year on MTV’s “True Life: I’m Allergic to Everything.” But living with a restricted diet was not so glamorous. “I think that the bullying that got on TV was good because that happens a lot,” Zeke says.

Today, at 17, he has made his life about much more than food. He is a high school athlete who works to raise money for EoE research. He says he hopes someday people like Dr. Marc Rothenberg, one of his Cincinnati Children’s doctors at the Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders, will someday find a cure.

WATCH ANOTHER FAMILY’S STORY: Specialists at Cincinnati Children’s are recognizing and diagnosing more and more cases of EoE. The Sieber family knows they are not alone in dealing with EoE and say they are glad to live so close to nationally recognized specialists.

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