This condition usually stems from repeated exposure to stomach acid. More specifically, it develops when tissue that is similar to the lining of the intestine replaces the tissue lining of the esophagus. Normal esophagus tissue appears pale and glossy, but with Barrett’s Esophagus, the tissue will appear red and velvety.
Frequent heartburn and chest pain are the most commonly experienced symptoms, though many people with Barrett’s Esophagus experience no symptoms.
Our GI doctors typically use an upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and a biopsy to detect Barrett’s Esophagus. The exact cause is unknown, but having Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) increases the chances of developing this condition. Although less common than other GI conditions, Barrett’s Esophagus still affects around 200,000 individuals each year in the U.S.
Barrett’s Esophagus can last for years or life, depending on the particular case. Medically monitoring your Esophagus is the best way to ensure that the condition does not worsen. Medications or surgery could also be performed if deemed necessary by your gastroenterologist. Rarely, Barrett’s Esophagus could develop into esophageal cancer if left untreated or not cared for properly.
Because Barrett’s Esophagus may come with no symptoms or may present as regular heartburn, it is important to contact a GI doctors with any concerns. Contact us to request an appointment with one of our gastroenterology specialists in Raleigh, Cary or Holly Springs.