Even when Drew Mastrino has stomach pain all morning, he is anxious to go outside and play with his buddies. His parents, Kristina and Andrew Mastrino, worry but let their five-year-old son run off to the park.
"He'll say 'I can get past this because Batman can,'" Kristina Mastrino said, explaining that Drew often draws on the strength of his favorite superhero to help him cope with his struggles related to eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE).
EoE (formerly called EE) is an allergic reaction to food that results in chronic inflammation and swelling in the esophagus. It occurs when a food allergy causes an excessive amount of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) to infiltrate the tube that brings food from the mouth to the stomach. Symptoms include difficulty swallowing, choking, abdominal pain, vomiting and weight loss. Because these symptoms can come on slowly and are similar to ones seen in other gastrointestinal disorders, eosinophilic esophagitis often takes a long time to diagnose. When the diagnosis is reached, the condition requires lifelong symptom management.
Helping Drew and his family manage his EoE is a team of pediatric specialists at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital that includes an allergist/immunologist, a gastroenterologist and a dietitian.