Barrett’s esophagus is a disorder where acid reflux damages the flat pink lining of the swallowing tube that connects the mouth to the stomach (esophagus), resulting in the lining thickening and turning red.
The lower esophageal sphincter, an extremely significant valve, sits between the esophagus and the stomach (LES). Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition that develops over time when the LES starts to collapse, causing the esophagus to become damaged by chemicals and acid (GERD). Symptoms like heartburn or regurgitation are frequently present with GERD. Some people’s GERD may cause Barrett’s esophagus by inducing a change in the cells lining their lower esophagus.
A higher risk of esophageal cancer is linked to Barrett’s esophagus. Even though there is a low chance of developing esophageal cancer, it is crucial to undergo routine examinations with thorough imaging and extensive esophageal biopsies to look for precancerous cells (dysplasia). To stop esophageal cancer, precancerous cells can be treated if they are found.
The most frequent cause of Barrett’s esophagus is chronic GERD, which can manifest as any of the following signs and symptoms:
- Frequent heartburn and stomach contents coming back up
- Having trouble swallowing food
- Occasionally, chest pain
Curiously, only around half of those with Barrett’s esophagus report having significant acid reflux symptoms. As a result, you should talk to your doctor about your digestive health and the potential for Barrett’s esophagus.
It is unknown what causes Barrett’s esophagus. While many patients with Barrett’s esophagus have had GERD for a long time, many others do not have any symptoms of reflux, a condition known as “silent reflux.”
Whether or not GERD symptoms coexist with acid reflux, chemicals, and stomach acid wash back into the esophagus, eroding the tissue and producing changes to the lining of the swallowing tube that lead to Barrett’s esophagus.
The following elements raise your risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus:
- If you have a family history of Barrett’s esophagus or esophageal cancer, your chances of developing the condition increase.
- . Barrett’s esophagus is far more common in men.
- Compared to people of other races, white people are more likely to get the illness.
- Although it can happen at any age, people over 50 are more likely to develop Barrett’s esophagus.
- Acid reflux and persistent heartburn. Proton pump inhibitors used for GERD that doesn’t improve or GERD that necessitates ongoing therapy can both raise the risk of Barrett’s esophagus.
- Smokes now or in the past.
- Weighing too much. Your risk is further increased by abdominal obesity.
You can typically find out if you have Barrett’s esophagus with an endoscopy.
Your throat is examined with an endoscope, a lit tube with a camera at the end, to look for any indications of shifting esophageal tissue. Normal esophageal tissue has a light, shiny appearance. The tissue of Barrett’s esophagus is velvety and crimson.
Your esophagus will be biopsied by your physician. The biopsied tissue can be analyzed to assess the level of change.
Doral Health and Wellness Gastroenterology experts specialize in gastrointestinal (GI) and liver disease diagnosis and treatment. Colonoscopies, in which the inside of the colon is examined, are another common treatment performed by these doctors. Please call us at 347-868-1016.