GI Health | Barret’s Esophagus
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Causes and Treatment

What is Barret’s Esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that affects people with chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which the normal tissue lining the esophagus changes and look more like small intestine cells (intestinal metaplasia). Barrett’s esophagus is a precursor to esophageal cancer. About 10% of people with chronic symptoms of GERD develop Barrett’s esophagus. There are no specific symptoms related to Barrett’s esophagus – aside from the normal symptoms of GERD. The condition does increase the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma – a serious and potentially fatal cancer of the esophagus.

Diagnosis

Since there are often no specific symptoms associated with Barrett’s esophagus, an upper endoscopy and biopsies are required to diagnose the condition. People with chronic heartburn should be screened for the presence of Barrett’s esophagus.

Treatment

The best way to treat Barrett’s esophagus is to control acid reflux, via lifestyle change and medication. Lifestyle change includes:

  •  Periodic EGD for surveillance to make sure that the Barrett’s does not progress to precancerous changes
  • If precancerous changes are found, radiofrequency ablation (treating the esophagus tissue so that normal tissue then grows back) is performed

Medications include:

  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Antacids
  • H2 blockers
  • Promotility agents

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