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Barrett’s esophagus

  • Overview


    If you experience acid reflux, it could damage the flat pink lining of the esophagus, which connects the mouth to the stomach, causing it to thicken and turn red. The LES, a valve between the esophagus and stomach, is crucial, but it may fail over time, leading to GERD or acid and chemical damage to the esophagus. This can cause Barrett’s esophagus, which may increase the risk of esophageal cancer. Although the risk is low, it’s essential to have regular checkups with imaging and biopsies to detect precancerous cells. If caught, treatment can prevent esophageal cancer.

  • Symptoms


    Long-term GERD usually causes Barrett’s esophagus and can be identified by symptoms such as frequent heartburn, regurgitation of stomach contents, difficulty swallowing food, and sometimes chest pain. Interestingly, about 50% of people with Barrett’s esophagus don’t experience acid reflux symptoms. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your digestive health to explore the possibility of having Barrett’s esophagus.

  • When to see a doctor


    If you have been experiencing heartburn, acid reflux, and regurgitation for more than five years, you should consult your doctor regarding the possibility of Barrett’s esophagus.

    If you are experiencing chest pain, which could indicate a heart attack or difficulty in swallowing, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention. Vomiting red blood or blood that resembles coffee grounds, passing black, bloody stools, and unintentional weight loss should also be taken seriously and warrant immediate medical attention.

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  • Causes


    It is not known exactly what causes Barrett’s esophagus. While some individuals with the condition also experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) for an extended period, others may not exhibit any reflux symptoms, sometimes called “silent reflux.” In cases where acid reflux is present alongside GERD symptoms, stomach acid and other chemicals can flow back into the esophagus, harming the oesophagus tissue and changing the lining of the tube used for swallowing. This damage can ultimately lead to the development of Barrett’s esophagus.

  • Risk factors


    The following elements raise your risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus:
    Family background. If you have a family history of Barrett’s esophagus or esophageal cancer, your chances of developing the condition increase.
    Being a man. Barrett’s esophagus is far more common in men.
    To be white. Compared to persons of other races, white people are more likely to get the illness.
    Age. Although it can happen at any age, persons over 50 are more likely to develop Barrett’s esophagus.
    Acid reflux and persistent heartburn. Proton pump inhibitor use 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.

  • Prevention


    Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that arises due to the damage caused to the lining of the esophagus due to acid reflux. This damage can potentially lead to esophageal cancer. Therefore, prevention is the key to avoid this condition. Lifestyle changes like avoiding smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, weight loss, and regular exercise can help prevent Barrett’s esophagus. Additionally, avoiding foods that trigger acid reflux like spicy and fatty foods, citrus fruits, and tomatoes can also help. Over-the-counter antacids and acid reflux medications can also help alleviate symptoms and prevent damage. Regular check-ups and endoscopies can help detect any early signs of Barrett’s esophagus, enabling timely treatment.

  • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

Content Details

Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

Last updated on: 07/08/2023