ROUND ROCK, Texas -- Hagen Birck is just four years old, but hospitals don't scare him. Actually, they've been more like a second home.
Hagen has Eosinophilic Esophagitis, commonly called E.E.
"It is essentially a food allergy condition that affects the esophagus," Pediatric gastroenterologist for Scott & White Healthcare Dr. Ashis Barad said.
The condition projects itself differently for each patient. For Hagen, it is excruciating leg and stomach pain three days after he eats the food. Some children continuously vomit, have headaches, back pains, etc.
"He tells me it feels like his legs are breaking," Hagen's mother Ronnie Birck said.
Simply put, Hagen can't eat certain foods, but doctors don't know what they are. For almost two years, Hagen ate nothing but formula. He has had 22 endoscopies and been under anesthesia 24 times. Dr. Barad is now slowing introducing him to food via trial and error.
"I have to feed my little baby a food, and that may be like feeding him poison, and that is really difficult," Birck said.
Dr. Barad said since it is still so new, there is no cure, but it's clearly on the rise.
"One in 1,000 children have this. Five years ago that was one in 3,000. Ten years ago, that was one in 10,000," he said.
Dr. Barad's plan, although slow, will allow Hagen to be healthy, even with E.E. Hagen is slowing finding foods he can eat like beans and corn taco shells.
Unfortunately, 90 percent of people with E.E. do not outgrow being dangerously allergic to hundreds or thousands of foods, but the condition has only recently started to gain attention, so doctors are hopeful there is a cure.