Let’s begin with talking about eosinophils – they are just a type of white blood cells that are laden with reactive chemicals which get released under specific conditions to cause mayhem in the body. In normal individuals, their levels stand at an average of 500 cells per microliter of blood or around 5% of the total white blood cell count. However, there may be minor variations to this value among different races and regions of the world.
When the concentration of eosinophils goes way beyond this average figure, your doctor will have a reason for concern and will conduct further tests to find out the underlying reason for this increase in eosinophil numbers (also known as eosinophilia). When the number of eosinophils is high in the blood it’s known as blood eosinophilia, and when it’s high in the tissues in a localized area of infection or inflammation, it’s known as tissue eosinophilia. When it’s a localized tissue eosinophilia, the eosinophils in the blood are likely to appear normal. This condition may arise as a result of allergic reactions, parasitic infections/infestations or sometimes even cancer.
Some of the presenting symptoms include paleness of the hands, exhaustion, wheezing, coughing, sneezing, various forms of skin eruptions, etc. Finding out the cause behind the eosinophilia is of prime importance here and is a multi-stepped procedure. A count of over 1,500 eosinophils over a period of several months can be termed as hypereosinophilia and a cause for concern.
Eosinophils play two major roles in the body – to destroy foreign bodies that have been flagged by the immune system and to regulate inflammation; sometimes this inflammatory reaction may be more than what’s required, resulting in tissue damage and disagreeable symptoms. Examples of this are asthma and allergies as well as ongoing allergies.
Some of the causes of eosinophilia include fungal and parasitic infections, allergies to food, medications or insect bites, adrenal conditions, autoimmune conditions, endocrine disorders, tumours, asthma, eczema, worm infestations, Hodgkin’s disease, ulcerative colitis, etc.
There are certain precautions you can take to reduce incidences of eosinophilia including:
In general, try to avoid allergens that are known to trigger eosinophilia.