Barrett's Esophagus

Overview of Barrett's Esophagus

Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that affects your food pipe. In Barrett’s esophagus, cells lining your food pipe (esophageal epithelium cells) get converted into cells that resemble intestinal cells (metaplastic columnar cells).

The condition usually affects people who have suffered from GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) for a long time. Persistent acidic environments in the esophageal area can damage these cells. Visually, you see flat pink-colored cells turning into red cells that are thicker. In some cases, Barrett’s esophagus can turn into esophageal cancer.


Signs and Symptoms of Barrett's Esophagus

The problem is usually without symptoms. However, as the problem is closely associated with long-lasting GERD so the certain indications you need to consider as warning signs. Some of these include: 

  • Frequent Heartburn
  • Swallowing Problem
  • Nausea
  • Acid Regurgitation
  • Unwanted Weight Loss 
  • Chest Pain 

Types of Barrett's Esophagus



Causes of Barrett's Esophagus

Your food pipe that acts as a connection between your mount and stomach works normally. However, if you suffer from GERD for a long time then you are more likely to suffer from Barrett’s esophagus. It is important to know that not every GERD results in Barrett’s esophagus.


Risk Factors of Barrett's Esophagus

Other than GERD there are many things that can increase your risk of suffering from GERD. These include:

  • Family History: If any of your family members is suffering from Barrett’s esophagus it increases your chance of suffering from the disease. 

  • Gender: Gender is an important risk factor in the case of diseases like GERD. Males are more likely to suffer from the problem than females.

  • Age: Your chances of suffering from Barrett’s esophagus sufficiently as soon as you enter your 50s. 

  • High Cholesterol Levels: High levels of cholesterol in your blood contributes to the triggering of acute myocardial infarction. You can lower your cholesterol by changing your diet or by taking specific medications such as statins as per the doctor’s prescription.

  • Race: White people can suffer from Barrett’s esophagus as compared to other races.

  • Body Weight: When you are overweight it sufficiently increases your chances of suffering from Barrett’s esophagus. Overweight people have visceral fat accumulation that acts as one of the risk factors for the disease.

  • Smoking and Alcohol Consumption: If you smoke or used to smoke then this is another reason that you are suffering from Barrett’s esophagus. 



Barrett’s esophagus is a common disease. However, you can do the following things to minimize your risk of disease:

  • Abstain from Smoking and Alcohol: Smoking and alcohol consumption serves as a major risk factor. You can avoid smoking and refrain from alcohol consumption as a preventive measure.

  • Maintain Ideal Body Weight: As already discussed, being overweight significantly increases your chances of suffering from Barrett’s esophagus. Maintaining your weight can be one of the preventive measures you can go after.

Focus on Your Diet: Consuming certain foods can be good for the management of Barrett’s esophagus. You can add foods to your diet that calm your stomach and avoid ones that trigger your acid reflux.



The problem of Barrett’s esophagus is usually without symptoms. However, tests to diagnose Barrett’s esophagus are:

  • Endoscopy: As Barrett’s esophagus changes the internal lining of your esophagus so your physician uses endoscopy to visualize the changes in esophageal lining.

  • Biopsy: After visualizing the changes in your esophageal lining, your physician may take a sample from your esophagus and send it for biopsy. Biopsy results further confirm the presence of Barrett’s esophagus.

Treatment of Barrett's Esophagus | When to Consult a Doctor

Treatment of Barrett’s esophagus greatly depends upon the clinical manifestation of your disease. The problem of Barrett’s esophagus can be classified as:

Berrett’s Esophagus Without Dysplasia

If your problem is without dysplasia then your doctor is more likely to ask you for the following:

Regular Monitoring via Endoscopy: This is to keep a check on how the situation progresses with time. A recommended practice is to go for an endoscopy every three to five years. 

GERD Treatment: Barrett’s esophagus usually begins due to a long-standing GERD. So, your physician will treat the problem with GERD medications that are generally via medicine. 

Berrett’s Esophagus with Dysplasia

If your Barrett’s esophagus is with dysplasia then treatment can be quite different. Dysplasia can be low-grade or high-grade dysplasia. 

Low-grade Dysplasia: Again Barrett’s esophagus low-grade dysplasia is a precancerous stage and doesn't require any serious treatment. To treat this usually Ablation Therapy is a suitable option. This is a minimally invasive procedure that targets abnormal cell growth in the esophageal region. 

High-grade Dysplasia: Barrett’s esophagus with high-grade dysplasia can be pretty concerning and is considered cancer. Here are some of the treatment options to treat this.

Radiofrequency Ablation: This treatment uses radiation-produced heat to target the area and remove cancerous tissues. 

Endoscopic Resection: Just as the name indicates, this procedure uses an endoscopy tube to target the cancerous tissues. The procedure is quite effective to damage cancerous cells at an early stage.

Cryotherapy: This procedure uses cold to destroy cancerous cells by freezing them. The procedure uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the damaged tissues that are shed off later.

Surgical Removal: If damage to the esophageal lining is severe, then a simple surgical removal is the suitable option. The procedure is esophagectomy.

If you have persistent GERD and tend to observe changes in your condition, suddenly consult the medical professional as soon as possible.