Disorder Made Man’s Esophagus Get Clogged with Pizza


A man was left drooling uncontrollably after eating a pizza roll that triggered a rare immune disorder, according to a scientific case study.

The unnamed 32-year-old individual visited the University of New Mexico Hospital as he was struggling to swallow his saliva after consuming a pizza roll. He told doctors it felt as if something was stuck in his throat.

The man had been struck by a similar sensation before, but said the problem had disappeared on its own.

To uncover what was clogging the man’s windpipe, medics carried out an endoscopy exam, where a camera is fed into an opening of the body. They found his throat was blocked with half-digested food. After clearing away the pizza, medics noticed the man had what is known as ringed esophagus, or trachealization, where the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach becomes inflamed and ribbed in appearance. This is the hallmark of an immune disorder called eosinophilic esophagitis, a condition often confused with gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Doctors prescribed the man with omeprazole, a medicine used for gastroesophageal reflux. When that didn’t ease his symptoms, doctors concluded the patient had eosinophilic esophagitis and offered him the anti-inflammatory drug fluticasone. He was also told to follow the six-food elimination diet, where the most common causes of food allergies are ditched: wheat, milk, soy, nuts, eggs, and seafood.

Mostly found in young men, eosinophilic esophagitis is where eosinophils white blood cells occur in the esophagus, where there would usually be none. The majority of cases happen in atopic people, or those who have a family history of allergies or asthma or conditions such as allergic rhinitis, and eczema.

The condition can trigger different symptoms in different age groups. Children may experience stomach pains, vomiting and finding it hard to swallow. Teenagers and adults, meanwhile, might have trouble eating solid foods.

In a case reported in the Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology in 2009, a nine-year-old body from Saudi Arabia repeatedly felt as if food was stuck in his chest for a year, and would cough up bits of food. His symptoms eased after he drank liquids. The boy soon became reluctant to eat solid foods, and started to lose weight. When doctors saw him, he weighed just 21kg and stood at 122cm.

The boy also had a ringed esophagus, and was treated with fluticasone.

“EoE [eosinophilic esophagitis] is a complex disorder,” the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology states on its website. “It’s important for patients to listen to their gastroenterologist for advice on managing EoE and figuring out when endoscopies are needed to check to see if the condition is getting better or worse.”

An allergist, immunologist and registered dietitian will in turn help a patient understand whether foods trigger the disorders and devise an appropriate meal plan, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

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