Ongoing acid reflux puts you at risk for Barrett’s esophagus. This condition causes precancerous changes in the lining of your esophagus with symptoms such as heartburn and a sore throat. Board-certified gastroenterologist Asif M. Qadri, MD, of Athens Digestive Healthcare Associates, can help you manage gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and acid reflux, which put you at risk for Barrett’s esophagus. To learn about your risk of developing this condition, call the office located in Watkinsville, Georgia, to schedule an appointment or book online today.
Barrett’s esophagus is a complication related to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is chronic acid reflux or heartburn in which stomach acid regurgitates into the esophagus, causing inflammation and damage to the area.
Barrett’s esophagus describes changes in the lining of the tissue of your esophagus, the tube connecting the throat (pharynx) with the stomach. The cells gradually turn into a type typically found in your intestinal lining — greatly increasing your risk of developing esophageal cancer. Most people with Barrett’s esophagus don’t develop cancer, however.
You won’t notice specific symptoms when the cells in the esophageal lining change. You’ll simply notice the symptoms of chronic GERD, including:
GERD is diagnosed when you have heartburn two or more times per week and have trouble resolving symptoms with over-the-counter medications. Dr. Qadri offers treatment for GERD, which can prevent the development of Barrett’s esophagus.
If you’re a man with at least five years of ongoing GERD symptoms, Dr. Qadri recommends you be screened for Barrett’s esophagus. Additional risk factors, such as being older than 50, a history of smoking, being obese, or having a family history of Barrett’s esophagus, increase your need to be tested.
Women have a far lower risk of esophageal cancer as compared to men. Dr. Qadri only recommends screening if you have personal risk factors.
Dr. Qadri uses an endoscopy to examine the lining of your esophagus for cellular changes. The procedure involves inserting a narrow, flexible tube through your mouth and into your esophagus. A video camera on the scope provides magnified images, allowing Dr. Qadri to examine the tissue and remove a sample for biopsy. He uses a wide-area transepithelial sampling (WATS) brush with 3D computer-assisted analysis to measure the thickness and quality of esophageal tissue.
Treatment for Barrett’s esophagus usually begins with medications that reduce acid production in your stomach and ease GERD symptoms. If you do have precancerous changes to the cells of the esophageal lining, Dr. Qadri recommends treatment to destroy the abnormal cells.
If you have chronic heartburn or GERD, call Athens Digestive Healthcare Associates for an evaluation. Set up a consultation by phone or using the online tool to learn more.