Barrett's esophagus can lead to digestive issues and, in some cases, cancer. This article will explore causes, symptoms, treatments, and how digestive problems affect more than what is south of the stomach.

What is Barrett's Esophagus? 

Barrett's esophagus is an illness of the esophagus lining. A condition in which the flat pink lining of the swallowing tube that links the mouth to the stomach (esophagus) becomes inflamed by acid reflux, causing it to thicken and become red.

Barrett's esophagus is generally caused by frequent exposure to stomach acid. Esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the most common cause of esophageal varices.

Causes of Barrett's Esophagus 

Barrett's esophagus is caused by acid reflux, also known as GERD. When acid reflux occurs, it causes the lining of the esophagus to become irritated and inflamed. Some other causes of Barrett's esophagus include:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Chronic heartburn
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Pregnancy

Symptoms of Barrett's Esophagus 

The most common symptom of Barrett's esophagus is heartburn. Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • A sour taste in the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Hiccups
  • Bloating
  • Burping

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is essential to see a doctor right away. Barrett's esophagus can be diagnosed through various tests, including an endoscopy, biopsy, and barium swallow.

Treatment for Barrett's Esophagus 

There are a few different treatment options available for Barrett's esophagus. Treatment options may include:

Changes in diet and lifestyle: Making changes in diet and lifestyle is often the first step in treating Barrett's esophagus. This may include avoiding trigger foods, quitting smoking, and losing weight.

Medications: Commonly used to treat Barrett's esophagus include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and histamine H2 receptor antagonists (H2 blockers).

Surgery: This is typically only recommended for people who have developed cancer due to Barrett's esophagus.

In most cases, treatment for Barrett's esophagus reduces the risk of developing cancer. It is essential to talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan.

Diet & Lifestyle Tips That Can Help Reduce The Risk

Quitting smoking is one of the most important things to reduce your risk of developing Barrett's esophagus. Smoking increases your risk of developing GERD.

Losing weight is also necessary; being overweight or obesity puts you at greater risk of developing GERD and Barrett's esophagus.

Avoiding trigger foods is also vital. Trigger foods are foods that can aggravate symptoms of GERD. Common trigger foods include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy food
  • Fatty or fried food
  • Citrus fruit
  • Tomatoes

Making these changes in diet and lifestyle can help to reduce your risk of developing Barrett's esophagus. However, it is paramount to talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan.

How can Barrett's Esophagus Lead to Cancer?

Barrett's esophagus is linked with an increased chance of esophageal cancer. Although the risk of developing esophageal cancer is minor, it is critical to have regular checkups that include careful imaging and extensive biopsies of the esophagus to check for precancerous cells (dysplasia). If precancerous cells are detected, they may be treated to reduce the chance of developing esophageal cancer.

Carolina Digestive Can Help With Digestive Issues

Our team will be happy to work with you to create a prevention, diagnosis, and treatment strategy. Contact us today; we treat all gastrointestinal issues and disorders with quality, comprehensive care.