You may suffer from heartburn (acid reflux) two or more times a week, and think it's no big deal. But it can become a really big deal. If you are living with acid reflux disease (or GERD), and it goes untreated or is under-treated, the constant acid reflux can begin to irritate the lining of the esophagus. When this happens, complications can set in.
Barrett's esophagus doesn't have any defined symptoms of its own. What symptoms may occur are usually their GERD symptoms.
While there is a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer in people with Barrett's, less than 1% of patients with Barrett's esophagus will develop this cancer. Even though the risk is low, it is still important that individuals diagnosed with Barrett's esophagus have regular examinations to screen for precancerous and cancerous cells. Examinations can include an upper endoscopic exam and/or biopsy.
Currently, there are no medications that will reverse Barrett's esophagus. When it comes to treating Barrett's esophagus, treating the underlying GERD symptoms may slow the progress of the disease.
Have you been diagnosed with Barrett's esophagus? You can share your experiences with symptoms, what prompted you to go to your doctor, and how a diagnosis was made.
It is important to know the symptoms of esophageal cancer, which include difficult and/or painful swallowing, hoarseness, and unexplained weight loss.
There are various treatment options available, and the doctor and patient should discuss which treatment for esophageal cancer is the most appropriate.Symptoms of esophagitis include pain when swallowing and a burning sensation in the esophagus.
Treating esophagitis depends on the cause. Medications such as proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers may be prescribed if the cause of the esophagitis is acid reflux due to GERD. Antibiotics may be prescribed if the cause of the esophagitis is an infection.causes of esophageal strictures can be scar tissue that builds up in the esophagus. When the lining of the esophagus is damaged -- for example, when acid reflux occurs over an extended period of time -- scarring can develop. Other causes of strictures can include swallowing corrosive substances and infections.
Carol Ann Rinzler; Ken DeVault, MD, First. Heartburn & Reflux For Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2004. pp 38-40; 136-138, 295, 298, 318-319.
"INFORMATION YOU CAN STOMACH - What are some severe complications and atypical manifestations of GERD?" The American College of Gastroenterology, n.d. Web. 9 Feb 2011. http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/gerd/info13.asp
"Is it just a little HEARTBURN or something more serious?" The American College of Gastroenterology, n.d. Web. 9 Feb 2011. http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/pdfs/UnderstandGERD.pdf
Steven R. Peikin, M.D., Gastrointestinal Health. First Edition. Harper Perennial (Harper Collins Publishers), 1999. 48; 50-51.