What Is Barrett’s Esophagus And Why Does It Matter?

March 20, 2015

Acid reflux and its chronic form, gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, can range from mild to severe. Further, patients do not always experience significant symptoms, even if their reflux is significant – this is known as silent reflux. Over time, the constant barrage of stomach acid hitting the sensitive lining of the esophagus causes significant damage.

When this damage continues, there is the possibility of changes in the esophageal lining at a cellular level. This is called Barrett’s Esophagus and represents a significant phase in the progression of GERD toward cancer. The cellular changes that are seen when a patient develops Barrett’s Esophagus can present an increased risk of esophageal cancer. For that reason, it is very important that patients are aware of their acid reflux and take the steps necessary to mitigate it.

How Is Barrett’s Esophagus Diagnosed?

It is estimated that about 10% of people who have poorly controlled or chronic Gerd develop Barrett’s esophagus. However it is very important for patients who have any sort of chronic gastroesophageal reflux to be screened on a regular basis for cellular changes. These screenings can be performed by an ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist or a gastroenterologist. By performing an upper endoscopy, essentially putting a small camera into your throat, the doctor can see if Barrett’s esophagus is present. To confirm the diagnosis, a biopsy will have to be taken.

Even though GERD may seem like a minor inconvenience, it is important that the symptoms are not allowed to continue over the long term. Both minor physical damage and serious issues, such as Barrett’s esophagus, can lead to significant problems in the future. Be sure to consult a qualified specialist to learn more about what you can do to avoid or eliminate GERD at its root cause.

Learn more about Acid Reflux and Gerd

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