Barrett’s Esophagus – Causes, Risk Factors and Treatments!

Barrett’s Esophagus – Causes, Risk Factors and Treatments  we should know. Also,  Barrett’s esophagus is a condition where the cells that make up your esophagus begin to look like the cells that make up your intestines. This usually happens when cells are damaged by exposure to stomach acid. This condition usually develops after years of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In some cases, Barrett’s esophagus can develop into esophageal cancer .

Barrett’s esophagus

Major Causes of Barrett’s Esophagus:  The exact cause of Barrett’s esophagus is not yet known. However, the condition is more common in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease . Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when the muscles at the bottom of the esophagus do not work properly. Weakened muscles will not prevent food and acids from flowing back into the esophagus.

It is believed that cells in the esophagus can become abnormal with prolonged exposure to stomach acid. Barrett ‘s esophagus can develop without gastroesophageal reflux , but patients with gastroesophageal reflux are 3 to 5 times more likely to develop Barrett’s esophagus .

Approximately 5 to 10 percent of people with gastroesophageal reflux develop Barrett’s esophagus. It affects men almost twice as often as women and is usually diagnosed after age 55.

Over time, cells in the esophageal lining can develop into precancerous cells. These cells can then develop into cancer cells. However, having Barrett’s esophagus does not mean you will get cancer. It is estimated that only about 0.5 percent of people with Barrett’s esophagus have cancer.

Barrett’s Esophagus Risk Factors:  If you have had gastroesophageal reflux symptoms for more than 10 years, you are at an increased risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus .

Other risk factors for developing Barrett’s esophagus are:

  • being a man
  • being caucasian
  • Over 50 years of age
  • Having H pylori gastritis
  • smoking
  • being obese

Factors that worsen GERD can worsen Barrett’s esophagus. These include:

  • smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Frequent use of NSAIDs or aspirin
  • Eating large portions at meals
  • Diets high in saturated fats
  • spicy foods
  • Going to sleep or lying down less than four hours after eating

Major Symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus: Barrett  ‘s esophagus has no symptoms. However, as most people with this condition also have gastroesophageal reflux disease , they will often experience frequent heartburn .

Call your doctor right away if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • with chest pain
  • Vomiting blood or vomit that resembles cafeteria
  • having difficulty swallowing
  • Passing black, demolished, or bloody stools

Diagnosis of Barrett’s Esophagus:  If your doctor suspects you have Barrett’s esophagus , they may order an endoscopy. Endoscopy is a procedure that uses an endoscope, or a tube with a small camera and lights up. An endoscope allows your doctor to see inside your esophagus.

Your doctor will check to see if your esophagus looks pink and shiny. People who have Barrett’s esophagus often have an esophagus that looks red and velvety.

Your doctor may also take a tissue sample that will allow them to understand what changes are happening in your esophagus. Your doctor will examine the tissue sample for dysplasia or abnormal cell development. The tissue sample will be classified based on the following degrees of change:

  • No Dysplasia: No visible cellular abnormalities
  • Low-grade dysplasia: small amount of cellular abnormalities
  • High Grade Dysplasia: A large number of cellular abnormalities and cells that can become cancerous

Barrett’s Esophagus Treatments:  Treatment for Barrett’s esophagus depends on the level of dysplasia your doctor determines you have. Options can include:

No Low-Grade Dysplasia:  If you don’t have low-grade dysplasia, your doctor will likely recommend treatments that will help you manage your gastroesophageal reflux symptoms . Medications to treat gastroesophageal reflux include H2 receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors.

You may also be a candidate for surgeries that can help you manage your gastroesophageal reflux symptoms . There are two surgeries that are commonly performed on people with gastroesophageal reflux , which include:

  • Nissen fundoplication:  This surgery attempts to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) by wrapping the top of the stomach around the LES.
  • Linx:  In this procedure, your doctor will insert the LINX device around your lower esophagus. The LINX device is made up of tiny metal beads that use magnetic attraction to prevent your stomach contents from escaping into your esophagus.
  • Stretta Procedure:  A doctor performs the Stretta procedure with an endoscope. Radio waves are used to cause changes in the muscles in the esophagus near where it joins the stomach. The technique strengthens the muscles and reduces the reflux of stomach contents.

High-Grade Dysplasia:  Your doctor may recommend more invasive procedures if you have high-grade dysplasia. For example, removing damaged areas of the esophagus through the use of endoscopy. In some cases, entire parts of the esophagus are removed. Other treatments include:

Radiofrequency Removal:  This procedure uses an endoscope with a special attachment that emits heat. Heat kills abnormal cells.

Cryotherapy:  In this procedure, an endoscope dispenses cold gas or liquid that freezes the abnormal cells. Cells can be thawed, then frozen again. This process is repeated until the cells die.

Photodynamic Therapy:  Your doctor will inject you with a light-sensitive chemical called porfimer (Photofrin). An endoscopy will be scheduled 24 to 72 hours after the injection. During endoscopy, a laser will activate the chemical and kill the abnormal cells.

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