‘You’re not supposed to have to think to breathe’ mandi balaskovits’ life with eosinophilic esophagitis news iowastatedaily.com apple nutrition oconomowoc

Dairy is a trigger for mandi balaskovits’ eosinophilic esophagitis, which is a disease that causes buildup of white blood cells in the esophagus, causing it to narrow and make it hard to swallow. She was diagnosed with eoe when she was 16 years old. Emily blobaum/iowa state daily the reason

Balaskovits started having throat problems when she was 14 years old. She had trouble swallowing, would get frequent stomach aches and would throw up.

Doctors diagnosed her with irritable bowel syndrome in middle school because she was showing symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn and chronic stomach aches.

It wasn’t getting better, so for nine months, she went to local gastroenterologists trying to find answers. She finally found one who recognized her symptoms as being something else and realized her irritable bowel syndrome was a misdiagnosis.


EoE is a chronic disease which causes a buildup of white blood cells that lead to constriction in the esophagus, making it difficult to swallow food.Blobaum iowa

EoE has no known cure, but steroid medications have been known to control inflammation, so doctors put her on what balaskovits called, “a ton of medicine,” which helped for more than three years. A more permanent treatment

Balaskovits’ first semester of college was characterized by nausea, excruciating stomach aches, diarrhea, swallowing troubles and no appetite. The copious amounts of medicine weren’t enough to treat her symptoms anymore.

It was then, 3-and-a-half years later, that she turned to an elimination diet and stopped eating dairy after noticing eating ice cream often gave her stomach aches.

Turkey sandwiches are one of mandi balaskovits’ go-to meals. After being diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis, eoe, at age 16, she was required to cut out dairy from her diet. In addition, although it’s not related to eoe, she can’t eat tree nuts, fish, legumes and most vegetables. Emily blobaum/iowa state daily

stomach aches

“when I couldn’t drive, I had ice cream sometimes as a treat, but my parents didn’t like to have it in the house, so then once I had that freedom, I seriously ate ice cream multiple times a week,” she said. “I think that’s what made it so much worse, because I was eating dairy so much more than I used to.”

It took a month for balaskovits to notice an improvement, but after six months, she went back in for another endoscopy. The test results showed that her esophagus had mostly cleared.

Turkey sandwiches are one of mandi balaskovits’ go-to meals. After being diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis, eoe, at age 16, she was required to cut out dairy from her diet. In addition, although it’s not related to eoe, she can’t eat tree nuts, fish, legumes and most vegetables. Emily blobaum/iowa state daily

She’s used to taking her medicine — which includes steroids, acid reducers and stomach inflammation reducers — 30 minutes before breakfast every day.Stomach aches

“if I were to eat a slice of pizza, it wouldn’t kill me or anything. I could [eat pizza] if I really wanted to, but I won’t let myself have one treat because then I’ll want it all the time,” balaskovits said.

In addition to avoiding dairy, balaskovits can’t eat tree nuts, fish, legumes, bananas, melons and most vegetables but she has found foods that she can enjoy.

“turkey sandwiches are my go-to,” she said. Sandwiches which consist of sliced turkey, spinach and onion, on sara lee whole grain white bread.

“as long as you are responsible enough to take all your meds and are disciplined enough to actually avoid the food that triggers it, [it’s manageable],” she said.

Balaskovits is one of the students featured at the rare disease day event at 6 p.M. Wednesday in the gallery room of the memorial union. She looks forward to sharing her story and hopes to help erase fear of the word “disease.”

“I think there’s such a stigma around disease,” she said.Blobaum iowa “it’s just this big, bad word and there’s so many people that have diseases and you would never know that they’re completely normal.”

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