Barrett's esophagus is a disorder in which the lining of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach) is damaged. The damage is caused by stomach acid that leaks back into the esophagus. This leakage of acid is commonly known as "heartburn" (gastroesophageal reflux)....
Barrett's esophagus itself does not cause symptoms. The acid reflux that causes Barrett's esophagus results in symptoms of heartburn. Rarely, Barrett's esophagus can progress to cancer of the esophagus, the symptoms of which may be difficulty swallowing or weight loss.
Irritation of the lining of the esophagus by stomach acid causes Barrett esophagus . It happens more frequently in men than women. Risk factors are frequent and long-standing gastroesophageal reflux. The condition carries an increased risk of cancer of the esophagus .
Barrett esophagus itself does not cause symptoms. The acid reflux that causes Barrett esophagus results in symptoms of heartburn . Rarely, Barrett esophagus can progress to cancer of the esophagus, the symptoms of which may be difficulty swallowing or weight loss.
Exams and Tests
Looking at the esophagus with an endoscope and obtaining a sample of esophagus tissue for examination (esophagoscopy with biopsy ) may reveal Barrett esophagus . A barium x-ray will not show the flat changes of Barrett esophagus.
Treatment includes general measures to control gastroesophageal reflux, medications, photodynamic therapy (PDT), and surgery. Treatment may be important even if the patient doesn't feel any symptoms.
General measures include:
Avoiding lying down after meals
Sleeping with the head of the bed elevated
Taking medication with plenty of water
Avoiding dietary fat , chocolate, caffeine, and peppermint because they may cause lower esophageal pressure
Avoiding alcohol and tobacco
Medications to relieve symptoms and control gastroesophageal reflux include antacids after meals and at bedtime, histamine H2 receptor blockers, proton pump inhibitors, cholinergic agents, and promotility agents.
Surgery to remove a portion of the esophagus may be recommended, if a biopsy shows the type of cellular changes that tend to lead to cancer (these changes are called dysplasia).
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a newly approved option that may allow you to avoid surgery. PDT involves the use of a special laser device, called an esophageal balloon, along with a drug called Photofrin. Together, the laser balloon and medication lead to destruction of the abnormal cells lining the esophagus, without affecting the normal tissue.
An increased risk of esophageal cancer is present. Follow-up endoscopy to look for dysplasia or cancer is often advised.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if heartburn persists for longer than a few days, or you have pain or difficulty swallowing .
Call your provider if symptoms worsen, do not improve with treatment, or if new symptoms develop in a person with Barrett esophagus.
Diagnosis and treatment of gastroesophageal reflux may prevent Barrett esophagus.
We are concerned, of course, but optimistic that it can be treated to prevent more serious complications down the road.
I'll write more after we find out what the other tests showed and find out what we can do about it. Dennis has no symptoms but the photos of his esophagus made us wonder why he wasn't experiencing heart burn. There are many spots that look like they should hurt.
It was so beautiful today. Cool, breezy and clear. It felt like Fall has arrived. We just hope it stays. We're tired of the heat.
Lots going on around here. When I have more time, I will write about it.
My big relief this week was finally getting all of my journals transferred to blogspot. This is the only one I will be writing in but it's nice to know the others are safe from deletion.