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What Is Hypereosinophilia?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 10 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Hypereosinophilia is a medical term used to describe a rare disorder in which an abnormally high number of eosinophils are present in the bloodstream. Eosinophils are special types of white blood cells which help protect the body from parasitic infections. These blood cells also become active during allergic reactions or as a response to medical conditions such as Cushing's disease. An elevated number of eosinophils in the blood is clinically known as hypereosinophilia and is often detected during routine blood tests. Symptoms of this blood disorder may include swollen lymph nodes, shortness of breath, or the development of a skin rash and should be evaluated and treated by a qualified medical professional.

Eosinophils are an important part of the body's natural immune system and are particularly helpful in helping the body fight infections caused by parasites such as intestinal worms. When a parasitic infection is present, hypereosinophilia develops as a defense mechanism as the immune system is activated in order to fight the invading parasites. When a person experiences an allergic reaction to certain foods, medication, or other substances, it is common for hypereosinophilia to develop. Other illnesses that can lead to an increased production of eosinophils include Cushing's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and blood cancers such as lymphoma or leukemia.

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Mild cases of hypereosinophilia may not cause any noticeable symptoms and are usually only diagnosed if the patient undergoes blood tests for other medical concerns. As the condition progresses, a skin rash may develop or lymph nodes may become swollen and uncomfortable. Respiratory problems such as coughing or wheezing are often experienced by those who have a substantial increase in the number of eosinophils in the blood. If left untreated, hypereosinophilia can lead to complications, such as damage to the heart, liver, or intestines. Blood clots, vision problems, and neurological disturbances are also possible symptoms of this disorder.

Treatment for hypereosinophilia depends upon the underlying cause as well as the presentation of individual symptoms. Cortisone medications are often helpful in alleviating symptoms associated with this condition, although additional medications such as antihistamines or anticoagulants may be needed in some situations. More invasive treatment methods, including surgery or organ transplantation, are sometimes required when there has been significant tissue damage that affects the proper functioning of the organ concerned. It is important to follow the advice of the supervising physician any time that hypereosinophilia is diagnosed, and any new or bothersome symptoms should be reported for further evaluation and treatment.

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