Eosinophilic esophagitis, which may be called EE or EoE, is a chronic allergic condition that affects the esophagus, which is the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach. It is characterized by an inflammation of the esophagus, due to an excess buildup of white blood cells (or eosinophils), which are released as an immune response to an allergy. The main cause of EoE depends on the individual, but it invariably occurs in response to either a food allergy or an environmental allergen.
Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Complications
Symptoms of EoE may vary from person to person, but the most common ones to look out for include: difficulty swallowing, chest pain, heartburn, regurgitation of food or vomiting, and swallowed food getting stuck in the esophagus, which is also known as impaction. Anyone suffering from heartburn-like symptoms may want to see their doctors immediately to see whether this condition may be at play. Chest pain and shortness of breath paired with jaw or arm pain may also signal a heart attack, which requires immediate attention.
Risk factors run from anything between climates and seasons to family history, age, and presence of allergies or asthma. Cold, dry climates and spring and fall, when pollen counts are high, are more conducive to developing EoE, and if you have a family history of EoE, you’re at a greater risk. Males are generally more likely than females to develop EoE.
Complications from EoE include scarring and narrowing of your esophagus. Longterm effects of EoE aren’t fully known, but continued damage to and narrowing of the esophagus will only make it more difficult to swallow and continue to affect your breathing and overall comfort.
VA Disability Ratings
VA rates EoE under § 4.114 Schedule of ratings, which covers the digestive system. Under Diagnostic Code 7346, which is the same code used for hiatal hernias, a veteran may be rated at 10, 30, or 60% disability based on the severity of symptoms. In the most severe cases, veterans may be granted Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU), which is tied to veteran’s inability to maintain gainful employment and will thus compensate them monthly equivalent to a 100% disability rating.
- 10% is awarded to veterans who display two or more of the symptoms listed for a 30% rating below, but with less severity.
- 30% is awarded to veterans with “persistently recurrent epigastric distress with dysphagia, pyrosis, and regurgitation, accompanied by substernal or arm or shoulder pain, productive of considerable impairment of health”
- 60% is awarded to veterans with “symptoms of pain, vomiting, material weight loss and hematemesis or melena with moderate anemia; or other symptom combinations productive of severe impairment of health”
Proving Service Connection
To get a disability rating from VA, you must prove a service connection for your condition. This requires having a current diagnosis for EoE, an in-service event or stressor which caused the condition, and a medical nexus—or proof of the connection from a medical profession—to make your case.
You may also try to prove a secondary service connection, meaning your EoE was caused or aggravated by another service-connected condition, such as asthma or eczema. This then requires you to prove a direct service connection for that condition instead of the EoE, but the medical professional must also provide a current diagnosis of EoE and a statement establishing causation to take to VA,
Assistance with your claim
Eosinophilic esophagitis can cause great discomfort and unpredictability to daily life, without mentioning its potential of severity or dangerous complications. If you believe your EoE has been caused by an event or stressor from your time on active duty, or is a secondary condition to another service-connected disability, you should seek compensation now. Get the help you need with your claim or appeal by contacting VA Disability Group PLLC online or at 844-VET-LAWS now.