Home Health What You Need to Know About Barrett’s Esophagus

What You Need to Know About Barrett’s Esophagus

by Paul Petersen

Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that occurs when the lining of the lower esophagus is abnormally changed and is more likely to develop into cancer. The lining of the lower esophagus is called the squamous epithelium, and in normal individuals, this lining has a protective layer of mucus above it. Barrett’s esophagus Austin, this protective layer of mucus is reduced or absent. The squamous epithelium may also be thicker than normal in people with Barrett’s esophagus.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus are similar to those of GERD but tend to be more severe. You may experience the following:

  • Chest pain that worsens when you lie down
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and regurgitation of food or fluid from your mouth after eating
  • Heartburn and indigestion, which may last for several hours after eating
  • Vomiting blood or having blood in stool
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bad breath

Barrett’s esophagus risk factors

  1. GERD: GERD causes damage to the lining of the esophagus and allows acid to splash back into it, causing irritation and inflammation.
  2. Smoking: Smoking may increase your risk for Barrett’s Esophagus (BE) because it causes chronic irritation to tissues throughout your body and may increase acid production in your stomach when you don’t smoke.
  3. Ongoing reflux: Those who experience frequent heartburn or acid indigestion are at increased risk for developing Barrett’s Esophagus.
  4. Age: Barrett’s esophagus is more commonly found in men than women and is most commonly diagnosed between ages 60-80 years old.
  5. Chronic heartburn: Chronic heartburn or acid reflux is one of Barrett’s esophagus’s most significant risk factors, but it doesn’t always cause symptoms. If you have long-term heartburn that doesn’t get better after taking medication and making lifestyle changes, talk to your doctor about getting an endoscopy or other tests to look for precancerous changes in your esophagus.
  6. Race: Caucasians are more likely to develop Barrett’s esophagus than African Americans or Asians/Pacific Islanders.
  7. Gender: Men are more likely to develop Barrett’s esophagus than women; however, women tend to progress from Barrett’s esophagus to cancer more quickly than men.

BE treatment

The best treatment for BE is changing your diet, so you don’t get heartburn again. Since the foods you eat may trigger your symptoms, you’ll want to avoid eating too much alcohol and caffeine, spicy and fatty foods, and anything too hot or cold. Keep in mind that very hot soups can damage your throat. When you have Barrett’s Esophagus, you are more likely to develop esophageal cancer. The risk is low and varies from person to person, but it’s essential to learn the symptoms so that you can discuss the treatment options with your doctor.

Barrett’s esophagus affects the lower part of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. It is usually caused by long-term damage from acid reflux. It develops when acid from the stomach damages the lining of your esophagus, causing it to become swollen and inflamed. Your Lonestar Gastroenterology specialist can tell if you have Barrett’s esophagus by doing an upper endoscopy.

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