Today marks the beginning of this year’s Eosinophil Awareness Week. On that note, here’s an Eosinophil!
These guys, called Eos for short, are one of 6 types of white blood cells. They’re normally transparent, but appear red after staining with Eosin, a red dye. They develop in the bone marrow, before moving into the blood stream and exist to combat parasites and (along with mastocytes and basophils) respond to allergens. When activated they degranulate (explode) releasing histamine and other chemical mediators.
For a normal person, 1-6% of your white blood cell count, should be composed of eos. They can also be found in the medulla, lower GI tract, ovary, uterus, spleen and lymph nodes. If more than 6% of your white blood cell count is made up of eos (and you aren’t hosting any parasites) and/or eos are found (via biopsy) in your lungs, esophagus, skin, or other organs, you have an eosinophilic disorder.
The presence of excess eosinophiles where they don’t belong is a sign of an overactive immune system that perceives a threat where there is none. In the absence of parasites, the eos attack environmental and dietary triggers. When they degranulate, the released mediators cause inflammation. With Eosinophilic Esophagitis, for example, that inflammation can create difficulty swallowing or even cause food to get stuck (impacted), requiring an endoscopy for removal and sometimes staples to patch the damage caused by the impaction.
For many, it becomes so severe they can only safely eat a handful of foods and others can only tolerate a pre-digested, amino acid formula because they react to all whole proteins.
In order to raise awareness about this rare, immune-mediated disorder, I created some eosinophil merchandise. I hope a few of you will buy something so I can get one too! (You have to reach a minimum number in order for them to be produced)
English: Click here to see all options!