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What Is Barrett’s Esophagus?

If you have chronic acid reflux or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), you could develop Barrett’s Esophagus. It is a condition associated with inflammation in the lining of the esophagus. At Summit Digestive & Liver Disease Specialists in Chicago and Oakbrook Terrace, IL, our skilled GI Specialists perform Barrett’s Esophagus screenings. They can develop an individualized plan for treating the condition.

Barrett’s Esophagus

Barrett’s Esophagus is a condition in which the lining of the esophagus near the stomach becomes damaged due to chronic inflammation from acid reflux. The damage causes the esophagus lining to thicken so that it resembles the lining of the small intestine. Individuals with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) have a higher risk of developing Barrett’s Esophagus.

Although rare, patients with Barrett’s Esophagus do have a slight risk for developing esophageal cancer. Dysplasia, which is a precancerous change in the tissues of the esophagus, can develop in some individuals. Dysplasia increases the possibility that esophageal cancer will develop.

Symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus can include heartburn, chest pain, and acid reflux. However, not everyone experiences symptoms. The best way to determine if a patient has Barrett’s Esophagus is to perform an endoscopy to observe the esophagus lining. If it has a different appearance than normal, then a tissue sample can be extracted for biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatments for Barrett’s Esophagus

There are several ways to treat Barrett’s Esophagus. A GI Specialist at one of our Chicago, IL, locations can develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs. Medications or surgery can be used to control the symptoms of GERD, but they cannot reverse the change in the lining of the esophagus. There are techniques for removing or destroying Barrett’s tissue and decreasing the risk of cancer, but they might not be right for everyone. Some of these methods include the use of heat, cold energy, or special chemicals.

Barrett’s Esophagus is an uncommon condition but can develop in association with GERD. A doctor can determine if you should be screened for the condition. To learn more about screening and treatments for Barrett’s Esophagus, schedule a consultation with a GI Specialist in Chicago and Oakbrook Terrace, IL by calling Summit Digestive & Liver Disease Specialists at (630) 889-9889.