Jayden Hong’s gastrointestinal symptoms started when he was just a few months old.
“He would wake up around 4 a.m. every night choking. It was a constant checking on him at night and very stressful. We put him on reflux medicine, but it just kept getting worse,” said Andrea Ramos. “He would eat and food would get impacted.”
In 2017, Jayden started seeing Dr. Shifra Koyfman, Pediatric Gastroenterologist at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, after a referral from his pediatrician. She performed an endoscopy, which revealed that his esophagus was in bad shape.
He was soon diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis (EE), a condition related to food ingestion or inhaled allergens. It is characterized by an isolated inflammation of the esophagus by a specific white blood cell called the eosinophil. It can be associated with other allergic conditions such as asthma and allergic rhinitis.
“What makes EE challenging is that it can replicate reflux, but left untreated patients can develop narrowing of their esophagus. Eosinophilic esophagitis has no cure, but we can treat it and help patients manage their condition. The hardest part of the therapy is probable sticking to the elimination diet, ” said Dr. Koyfman.
Jayden was prescribed an elimination diet and steroid treatment by Dr. Koyfman and could only eat certain foods. Foods that were eliminated included ice cream, chocolate and many things kids like.
“At school it made him feel out of place. It was difficult for him to be different. He also has severe allergies, so it made things harder,” Ramos said.
Patients with Jayden’s condition often have severe allergies. As part of his treatment, he was also seen by Nicklaus Children’s Hospital allergists and ENTs to help treat his condition.
Over time, his condition began to improve.
His last endoscopy showed that his esophagus looks great! I almost cried”, Ramos said. “We’ve been able introduce other foods and he’s gaining weight. His life is so much better.”
Today Jayden is nine-years-old and enjoys playing sports and video games, and is a green belt in karate. Now that he’s older he understands and is aware of the foods that make him feel sick. He’s very good managing at his condition and very mature about it.