Barrett’s esophagus is a serious complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In this condition, normal tissue lining of the esophagus changes and becomes similar to the lining of the intestine. Esophagus is the tube that will carry your food from the mouth to the stomach.
Barrett’s esophagus does not show any specific symptoms. The symptoms of this problem is similar to the symptoms of GERD. This is a dangerous medical problem because it may result in esophageal adenocarcinoma which is a cancer of the esophagus. People who are diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus problem showed get their esophagus examined routinely so that the doctor can discover precancerous and cancerous cells at an early stage because then the disease is easier to treat.
Since there is no specific symptoms of this problem, it may not be very easy to diagnose. With an upper endoscopy and biopsy, diagnosis can be done by a doctor.
It is very important for people who have multiple risk factors for Barrett’s esophagus to go for screening. Such risk factors include male sex, age over 50, white race, long-standing GERD, hiatal hernia, overweight. People who have more fat around the middle part of their body are at a higher risk.
For diagnosis, a gastroenterologist will insert a long to you with a camera down the throat of the patient into the esophagus. That is done after sedating the patient and the procedure is not painful. With the help of that you and the camera, the doctor can inspect the lining of the esophagus. Proper diagnosis will still need a biopsy. A sample of the lining of your esophagus will be taken and will be examined under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.
When Barrett’s esophagus presences confirm, your doctor may ask for a follow-up endoscopy and biopsy to conform presence of precancerous or cancerous cells.
Some patients may have Barrett’s esophagus but no cancer or no presence of precancerous cells. In that case, the doctor may still ask for a periodic repeat endoscopy. This is a precaution that you should take so as to avoid the possibility of esophageal cancer.
Barrett’s esophagus problem can be treated and the primary goal of the treatment is to slow the development of this condition. That can be done with the help of treatment and control of acid reflux. You will need some lifestyle changes and element that some medicines.
The lifestyle changes may include several important things. First of all, you will need to make some changes in your diet. Since fatty foods, caffeine, spicy foods, chocolate and peppermint can aggravate reflux, you will need to reduce or stop such foods. You will also need to completely avoid some foods and drinks like caffeinated drinks, alcohol and tobacco. You will also need to ensure that you are losing weight because if you are overweight, it will increase your risk for reflux. While sleeping, you will need to keep your head elevated. If you do that, a seed present in your stomach may not be able to flow to the esophagus. After eating your food, you should not lie down for three hours. You will also need to drink more water.
There are different medicines available which are doctor may prescribe to you. Proton pump inhibitor may be necessary to reduce the amount of stomach acid production. Antacids are may be necessary for neutralizing stomach acid. H2 blockers are generally prescribed for reducing the release of stomach acid. Promotility agents may be prescribed to speed up the movement of food you eat from your stomach to the intestines.