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Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which the cells which form the throat begin to form, similar to those found in the intestines. Very often this is the result of injury to the esophagus through the action of a gastric acid.
The causes of Barrett’s esophagus
The exact causes of the illness which are Barrett’s esophagus are not known, but it is most often associated with stomach problems, which are related to the malfunction of muscles located in the lower part of the esophagus.
The cells of the esophagus vulnerable to prolonged exposure to stomach acid change their structure to one that resembles the inside of the bowel. Barrett’s esophagus is a health problem that even twice as frequently affects men and people over 55 years of age.
The group of increased risk of Barrett’s esophagus may include the occurrence of problems, such as:
- the appearance of Helicobacter pylori in the stomach,
- overweight and obesity,
- drinking excessive amounts of alcohol,
- frequent use of certain drugs (such as painkillers)
- eating excessive portions during meals,
- a diet high in saturated fats,
- eating too much spicy food,
- sleep immediately after eating.
The symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus
Among the most common symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus are frequent heartburn and reflux, which are also associated with gastro-oesophageal reflux problems. Other symptoms include:
- oppressive chest pain,
- vomiting blood or vomit similar to coffee grounds,
- difficulty in swallowing,
- dark, sometimes black and tarry or bloody stools.
Diagnosis and treatment of Barrett’s esophagus
Cases where you experience symptoms of the disease, the doctor recommended confirming endoscopy, which will assess the state of the throat. Patients suffering from Barrett’s esophagus, often have extremely red and velvety throat (healthy, it is pinkish and shiny).
Sometimes, the doctor also needs to examine a tissue sample of the esophagus, which will assess the state of the cells – mainly the fact the emergence of some irregularities. There are three types (degree of changes):
- the absence of dysplasia – no visible abnormalities of cells,
- a small level of dysplasia – a few cell disorders,
- a high level of dysplasia – a large number of cell abnormality, as well as the occurrence of tumor cells that may contribute to cancer development.
Treatment depends on the degree of dysplasia. If it is soft, Barrett’s esophagus is treated by alleviating symptoms of gastro-oesophageal. Sometimes, however, it is used here, treatments, helping to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter.
A more severe form of dysplasia requires more invasive procedures, including the removal of damaged areas of the esophagus through the proceedings with an endoscope. Rarely, but also there are treatments involving total removal of the esophagus. Is also used ablation, cryotherapy or photodynamic therapy.
All procedures related to the treatment of Barrett’s esophagus may entail some complications, such as the emergence of pain in the chest, narrowing of the esophagus, and even rupture of the esophagus.