WHAT IS BARRETT’S ESOPHAGUS?
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which the lining of your esophagus becomes irritated and is replaced by tissue normally found in your intestinal lining.
The condition is often caused by gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and can increase your risk of esophageal cancer. Medical care from a specialist helps detect precancerous cells and offers you symptom relief.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF BARRETT'S ESOPHAGUS?
It’s common not to experience symptoms associated with esophageal tissue changes and Barrett’s esophagus. However, if you have the condition, you might suffer from symptoms of GERD, including:
- Chest burning or pain
- Problems swallowing food
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR BARRETT'S ESOPHAGUS?
The cause of Barrett’s esophagus isn’t entirely clear, but risk factors of the disease often include:
- Acid reflux
- Chronic heartburn
- Being white
- Being a man
- Being overweight or obese
In some cases, people with Barrett’s esophagus don’t have symptoms of acid reflux, and the cause of their condition isn’t known.
HOW IS BARRETT'S ESOPHAGUS DIAGNOSED?
To diagnose Barrett’s esophagus, your gastroenterologist reviews your medical history and symptoms. They often complete an upper endoscopy, which is a diagnostic procedure where your doctor uses a thin, lighted tube attached to a camera to view the inside of your esophagus.
They may complete a biopsy during the procedure to make a final diagnosis.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR BARRETT'S ESOPHAGUS?
If you have a mild case of Barrett’s esophagus, your doctor might recommend lifestyle changes to relieve GERD symptoms. Examples include weight loss, eliminating alcohol, coffee, chocolate, and other trigger foods, not smoking, avoiding tight clothes, and raising the head of your bed at night.
Medications can relieve symptoms associated with GERD and Barrett’s esophagus. Your doctor lets you know which medicine best matches your needs.
Your doctor monitors Barrett’s esophagus using routine biopsies that can detect esophageal cancer.
MINIMALLY INVASIVE PROCEDURES
For more severe cases of Barrett’s esophagus, your gastroenterologist might recommend minimally invasive procedures such as radiofrequency ablation, cryotherapy, or surgery to remove precancerous or cancerous cells in the esophagus.