Barrett's esophagus is a condition that affects the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach) . When people have Barrett's esophagus, the normal cells in the lower part of their esophagus are replaced by a different type of cell.
Barrett's esophagus is usually caused by acid reflux. Acid reflux is when the acid that is normally in your stomach backs up into the esophagus. Many people with acid reflux never get Barrett's esophagus, but some do.
If you have acid reflux, it's important to know if you also have Barrett's esophagus. That's because Barrett's esophagus can later turn into pre-cancer or cancer of the esophagus.
Barrett's esophagus does not cause any symptoms. But people usually have symptoms from their acid reflux, such as:
Yes. Your doctor can do a test called an upper endoscopy to check for Barrett's esophagus.
During an upper endoscopy, a doctor puts a thin tube with a camera and light on the end into your mouth and down into your esophagus (figure 2). He or she will look at the lining of the esophagus and take a small sample of it. Another doctor will look at the cells under a microscope to see if you have Barrett's esophagus.
Barrett's esophagus is treated by reducing or getting rid of a person's acid reflux. Treatment does not usually cure the Barrett's esophagus, but it keeps it from getting worse.
Your doctor will likely give you medicines to stop your stomach from making acid. He or she might also recommend that you:
Yes. If you have Barrett's esophagus, you should follow up with your doctor. He or she will keep checking that your Barrett's esophagus does not turn into pre-cancer or cancer.