In the world and in many developed countries like US, UK , Italy, Japan and other developing countries like Africa and specifically Nigeria, many Gastrointestinal(GI) disorders exist which are numerous. They range from tumors in the salivary gland to tumors in other parts of the Gastrointestinal system, parts of esophagus to colon,that’s just tumors for the GIT, talk less of ischemic disease in GIT caused by lack of blood supply to various parts of GIT and other numerous GIT diseases,all these and many more affecting different age groups ranging from babies to the elderly. All these cause discomfort to the patients,and may result to death in the long run. The disease considered here is a preventable disease that with proper lifestyle and knowledge of this disease and its sequel of problems, one can consciously avoid it.
So What is Barrett’s Esophagus?
As the name implies, it has something to do with the esophagus. The esophagus also known as ‘food pipe’ or ‘gullet’ is an organ through which food passes to the stomach.
So what does Barrett esophagus mean, to understand this disease, one must understand the nature of the lining of the esophagus which we call its histology.
Normally the esophagus is lined by a lining,a mucous membrane which consists of something we call stratified squamous epithelium and serves as a protective function against the abrasive effects of food. When this lining is replaced by another type of lining which we call metaplasia, we call this Barrett esophagus. And you may ask what if it replaces what happens,why is it a big deal?
Patients with Barrett esophagus are at an increased risk of getting Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus which you will simply call cancer.
So you may be asking what will cause it:
A condition known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD, in which acid in the stomach goes to the esophagus and irritates the lining of the esophagus changing it to another cell type and causing as we just learnt Barrett esophagus.
So how do I know if I have Barrett esophagus:
You should go to the doctor for help if you have a peculiar history of GERD, in case you don’t know GERD presents with symptoms like:
- a sour burning sensation in the back of the throat
- a long persistent cough and
Though not all with GERD(gastroesophageal reflux disease) cases would develop into Barrett esophagus.
For the investigative test an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy is done.
How can Barrett esophagus be treated:
It includes some lifestyle changes such as:
Making changes in your diet like avoiding fatty foods, chocolate, spicy foods and peppermint that can aggravate reflux.
Avoiding alcohol, tobacco and caffeinated drinks.
Not lying down immiedately after eating (about 3hrs)
And taking all medicines with water
And doctors may also prescribe antacids, proton pump inhibitors and histamine2 blockers.
Note, you can avoid Barrett esophagus and even if you have it you can treat it effectively before it turns into a cancer.