What is Barrett’s Esophagus? Its Symptoms and Causes
Patients who suffer from GERD, a disease in which the esophagus is exposed to the gastric acid of the stomach, are always at the risk of developing another gastrointestinal disease known as Barrett’s Esophagus. The symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus happen to be the exaggerated versions of the symptoms of Acid reflux. This is because the cause of Barrett’s Esophagus resides in the impact’s acid reflex on the Esophagus. The aim of this blog is to educate people about this dreadful esophageal condition.
What is Barrett’s Esophagus?
Esophagus is the tube-like structure of the alimentary canal through which your food travels from mouth to stomach. It is made up of several membranes (linings). When the acid from the stomach travels up to the esophagus due to the condition of GERD, the inner lining of this structure gets damaged due to the destructive quality of acid. This happens to be the cause of Barrett’s esophagus. In Barrett’s Esophagus, the inner lining of this essential tube-like structure becomes inflamed causing numerous uncomfortable symptoms.
Symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus
Barrett’s esophagus has no symptoms of its own. As most people with this condition have a history of GERD, the symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus are seen as the exaggerated symptoms of GERD. Some of these symptoms are as follows:
- Due to the esophagus being right behind the heart, the acid in the esophagus causes a sensation of burn in the chest. This is known as heartburn. In Barrett’s Esophagus heartburn is more experienced more frequently than in GERD
- In Barrett’s esophagus, people often suffer from regurgitation of the stomach, in which the swallowed food is brought up to the mouth again.
- Dysphagia of any level can occur in Barrett’s esophagus. This symptom causes the patient to suffer from difficulty in swallowing food items due to the narrowed food pipe. The narrowing of the esophagus is caused by the accumulation of scar tissue in it
- In some cases, patients suffer from mild to severe chest pain.
Who is at risk of Barrett’s esophagus?
As all the causes of Barrett’s esophagus are unknown, it is very difficult to say who exactly is at the risk of having Barrett’s esophagus. However, there are certain factors that add to the possibility of a person developing this condition:
Gender: it is seen that males are far more affected by this condition than females
Ethnicity: People belonging to the area where the population of whites is more abundant, remain at higher risk of Barrett’s esophagus
Age: The question of, does age causes Barrett’s Esophagus? Is a valid one as most of the people who suffer from this condition are of above 50 years of age
Previous medical condition: As we have seen above, the most common cause of Barrett’s esophagus is GERD. Therefore, people with GERD are at the highest risk of developing this condition.
How is Barrett’s esophagus diagnosed?
The diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus includes a method known as an upper endoscopy. In this method of diagnosis, a tube is inserted through the throat down the larynx to examine the esophagus. Any change in the inner lining of the esophagus can easily be detected by this method.
After endoscopy has detected a change in the appearance of the esophagus, a biopsy is done to confirm the condition in the patient. This involves the examination of a small tissue cut and taken out from the esophagus.
Treatment of Barrett’s esophagus
As Barrett’s esophagus can cause the patient to develop oesophageal cancer, the treatment of this largely depends upon the possibility of this condition ending up as cancer.
- For Barrett’s esophagus without the presence of cancerous cells, regular examination, and the treatment of precursor condition like GERD is advised.
- For Barrett’s esophagus with the presence of cancerous cells, certain treatment options are suggested:
- Ablation of cancerous tissue using radio waves
- Freezing degenerated portion of esophagus with liquid nitrogen and they let this shed
- Invasive surgery: When the patient has developed oesophageal cancer, doctors may recommend getting surgery to cut out the affected part of esophagus.
Barrett’s esophagus can be prevented and treated provided you get the care your body needs. At Alfa Gastro and Liver Care Centre, this care is guaranteed.
For more information book an appointment with the best gastroenterologist Dr. Vatsal Mehta.