Barrett’s Esophagus is a severe complication of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. This is a condition in which the normal tissue lining the esophagus changes to a tissue resembling the lining of the intestine. It is estimated that ten percent of people suffering from Chronic GERD disease would develop Barrett’s Esophagus.
This is a condition that has no specific symptoms, but may suffer from it would experience symptoms related to GERD. However, suffering from this condition would increase the chances of developing Esophageal Adenocarcinoma which is a very serious and potentially fatal form of cancer in the Esophagus.
The risk of suffering from this form of cancer for people with Barrett’s Esophagus is high, suffering from that condition is actually very rare. Statistically speaking, less than 1% of people with Barrett’s Esophagus would develop that form of cancer.
Nevertheless, it is of the utmost importance that if you get diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus you must have routine check-ups and examinations of your esophagus. These routinely examinations would help your doctor discover cancer cells earlier and prevent any dispersion of the disease.
Another important issue worth to point out is that not everyone who suffers from GERD would develop Barrett’s Esophagus and not everyone with Barrett’s Esophagus had GERD. But, bear in mind that suffering from GERD for a long time would be a primary risk to develop Barrett’s Esophagus.
Because Barrett’s Esophagus has no symptoms of their own, the only way it can be diagnosed is via an upper endoscopy and later a biopsy.
There are certain risks factors, however, that can prompt your doctor to check for Barrett’s Esophagus, this factor includes being over fifty, male, white race, long-standing GERD, overweight, and hiatal hernia.
In order to perform the endoscopy, your doctor would call a Gastroenterologist and then insert a long flexible tube that has a camera attached to it down the throat and into the esophagus, you will be given a sedative of course. The process is far from being very comfortable, but at least it isn’t painful.
The first course of treatment is to prevent or at least slow down the development of Barrett’s Esophagus, the way to do this is by treating and controlling Acid Reflux. The way to do this is by doing considerable lifestyle changes and medications.
The lifestyle changes can be changes in your diet eliminating fatty foods, spicy foods, peppermint caffeine and chocolate, as they all can increase reflux.
Medications can be antacids, h2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors, and promotility agents which are drugs that help to speed up the movement of the food from the stomach to the intestines.