Boy, 3, unable to eat food
Updated On: Sep 24 2013 10:59:17 AM EDT
Three-year-old Ezekiel Caalim started breaking out in hives after feedings when he was around 5 months old.
Little did his parents know it was the beginning of a rare and potentially deadly disorder that renders him unable to eat food -- eosinophilic esophagitis, which causes white blood cells to attack food like a virus or parasite.
"I didn't know what to do then," said Ezekiel's mother, Kristine Caalim, who explained that her son was having severe reactions to everything he ate.
"His face swells up, his throat swells up," she told Virginia Beach TV station WTKR.
Ezekiel's reactions to food also manifest on his skin in the form of severe rashes that cause him to itch and scratch all the time.
"He'll scratch until, you know, he won't stop if he bleeds," Caalim said.
In EOE, a type of white blood cell (eosinophil) builds up in the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach as a reaction to foods, allergens or acid reflux. When that happens, the eosinophils can inflame or injure the esophageal tissue, according to Mayo Clinic.
Last year, before the family knew exactly what was causing Ezekiel's severe reactions, Caalim and her family took Ezekiel to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
Even though they did not have a referral, a doctor in the waiting room couldn't turn them away. After several tests, doctors there diagnosed Ezekiel with the disorder.
He now eats a special kind of formula that's fed to him through a feeding tube in his stomach, though he can drink apple juice without an allergic reaction.
Doctors say he may never outgrow the disorder.