What is Barrett’s esophagus?
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which cells lining the esophagus are damaged by stomach acid. The lining becomes to look abnormal and similar to the lining of the stomach.
Cells called squamous (flat) cells normally line the esophagus. In Barrett’s esophagus, these cells become another type, called columnar (cells that look like columns). About 5% to 10% of people with this disorder develop cancer of the esophagus.
How common is Barrett’s esophagus?
People who get gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – a chronic symptoms that acid reflux from the stomach to the end of the esophagus – often suffer from Barrett’s esophagus. You can limit your risk by reducing the risk factors. Always consult your doctor for more information.
Signs & symptoms
What are some signs and symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus?
Most symptoms are similar to those in people with acid reflux or acid indigestion. Heartburn is characteristic and usually occurs at night, often waking people from sleep.
Other symptoms include:
- Chest pain;
- Difficulty swallowing;
- Food getting stuck;
- Shortness of breath, wheezing;
- Laryngitis and hoarseness.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptoms, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.
When should you see your doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes Barrett’s esophagus?
The cause is unknown, but it is thought to start from acid reflux disease. It can occur in 10% to 15% of people with acid reflux. It is not hereditary and is not spread from person to person.
What increases your risk for Barrett’s esophagus?
There are many risk factors for Barrett’s esophagus, such as:
- Chronic heartburn and acid reflux;
- Barrett’s esophagus is more common in older adults;
- Men are more likely to develop Barrett’s esophagus;
- Races: White people have a greater risk of the disease than do people of other races;
- Being overweight. Body fat around your abdomen further increases your risk;
- Smoking is not only harmful to the lungs and respiratory system but also affect the esophagus and digestive ability of the body.
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist.
What are your treatment options for Barrett’s esophagus?
The goal is to prevent acid from refluxing into the esophagus. This protects the esophageal lining and may prevent development of Barrett’s esophagus.
Drugs can limit the amount of acid reaching the lining. These drugs including antacids, H2-antagonists (e.g., ranitidine, cimetidine), proton pump inhibitors (e.g., omeprazole, lansoprazole), and medicines that improve gastrointestinal motion (e.g., metoclopramide). Proton pump inhibitors are most effective and preferred.
The major complication is development of esophageal cancer, but the doctor can monitor the esophagus by frequent endoscopy to check for cancer.
What are the most common test for Barrett’s esophagus?
The doctor usually diagnoses the disorder by using endoscopy (placing a lighted tube into the mouth and down into the esophagus). The doctor examines the esophagus and can take samples of any possible problem areas (by a biospy, or removing a small piece of tissue for study under a microscope).
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies help manage Barrett’s esophagus?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Barrett’s esophagus:
- Follow your doctor’s appointments for monitoring progression of symptoms as well as your health condition;
- Listen to your doctor’s instruction, do not take unprescribed medicines or leave your dose;
- The only way to diagnose the disorder is by tissue biopsy via endoscopy. A gastroenterologist (a specialist who treats diseases of the stomach and bowel) will do this.
- Elevating the head of the bed to prevent acid reflux occur at night.
Call your doctor if you have the following symptoms:
- Food gets stuck in your throat;
- You throw up;
- You have trouble swallowing and lose weight.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Print Version. page 269
Barrett Esophagus. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/barretts/index.aspx. Assessed July 28, 2015.
Review Date: August 17, 2016 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019