barrett’s esophagus

overview

If you’ve got chronic heartburn or chest pain, it may actually be Barrett’s esophagus. That’s when the lower part of the tube that connects the mouth and throat to the stomach (esophagus) is exposed to stomach acid over time. Long-term heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) increases your risk of Barrett’s esophagus.

symptoms

Barrett’s esophagus symptoms are usually related to GERD and include:

  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Trouble swallowing food
  • Dry cough or clearing throat repeatedly
  • Sour tasting fluid backing up into your mouth
  • Frequent burping or belching

(Chest pain and trouble swallowing can be signs of something more serious and require immediate medical care.)

diagnosis

First, you’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam. You’ll talk about your symptoms, and your doctor may order tests such as an EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy), also called upper GI endoscopy. In this test, a lighted tube equipped with a tiny camera (endoscope) is inserted down the throat to look for changes to the tissue in the esophagus. During the procedure, a doctor can also remove tissue samples (biopsy) from the esophagus by inserting instruments through the endoscope to gather cells. 

services & treatment

Barrett’s esophagus treatment depends on whether there are signs of dysplasia. If there’s no dysplasia, your doctor may recommend medication to reduce the amount of acid the body produces. 

Your doctor might recommend treating any GERD symptoms with medication or with surgery to tighten the muscle that controls the flow of stomach acid.

Your doctor might recommend dietary/lifestyle modifications to control GERD.

If your case is more serious, your doctor may recommend radiofrequency ablation, which uses heat to remove the abnormal tissue.

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