Disorder makes many foods off limits for 9-year-old
10:14 AM Mountain Standard Time on Tuesday, March 1, 2005
By Brandy Aguilar and Beverly Kidd / 3TV
What if your favorite foods were your enemy? Foods you were used to eating, like cereal, eggs and
even bread, were now the culprit behind your stomach pains.
For one Arizona family it has definitely changed their lives and the way they look at food.
"I can't eat wheat, pasta and those type of things," Ryan Tanner said. "I can't eat dairy, milk. I can't
eat corn, potatoes, apples and beans."
Those are just some of more than 40 foods that are now off-limits for 9-year-old Ryan.
"I panicked," Ryan's mom, Shelly Tanner, said. "As a mother, you want to feed your kid. He's
growing and he's a huge eater. I honestly didn't know what to do."
At first doctors thought Ryan had acid reflux disease. Since he was a baby he would spit up his
food, sometimes six times a day.
It wasn't until Ryan met Dr. Fayez Ghishan, head of pediatrics and director of Steele Children's
Research Center in Tucson, that he found out what was really wrong.
Ryan was diagnosed with E.G. or eosinophilic gastroenteritis. The disorder is inflammation of the
digestive tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and the intestines.
"The disorder involves the food pipe, the esophagus, so essentially what happens is that these
infants have symptoms similar to those with reflux," Ghishan explained. "Those infants or children,
they have vomiting episodes or regurgitation. They can have difficulties in swallowing and, most
importantly, they sometimes fail to thrive -- that is they don't grow very well."
In order to treat Ryan's condition, Ghishan had to restrict certain foods. The doctor's goal was to
figure out which foods were giving Ryan trouble.
"It's amazing that it seems orange juice and all of his favorite foods showed up as one of the
causes to what was creating the discomfort," Ryan's Dad, Alan Tanner, said.
On top of all that, doctors suspect living in Arizona isn't helping Ryan.
"So probably why one of the reasons here in Arizona the incident of this disease is really high is
simply because we have a lot of pollution," Ghishan said. "Air allergens cross react with food
allergies, so it's probably a combination of both because why do 30 to 40 percent of the patients
have asthma as well as this disease?"
Since being diagnosed with E.G., Ryan now eats things like organic cereals, wheat-free pretzels
and products that are gluten free.
His mom has even designated special shelves in the cupboards and refrigerator so his food won't
get mixed up with the rest of the family.
While Ryan will continue to monitor what he eats for a long time, just knowing what he has makes
his parents feel a lot better.
"He feels better," Alan Tanner said. "He's not having the reflux."
About 22,000 American kids are affected by this disorder.
Steele Children's Research Center
Darci Slaten, director of community affairs
Tucson Support group