If you have been suffering from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) for a number of years, you might be concerned that you will develop Barrett’s Esophagus, and understandably so. This article will focus on Barrett’s Esophagus symptoms and how to distinguish these symptoms from other gastro-intestinal diseases, as there are sometimes overlapping symptoms.
A Typical Progression To Barrett’s Esophagus
Barrett’s Esophagus is often a natural progression from chronic or long-term GERD. The difficult thing is that there are not always noticeable symptoms when a person develops Barrett’s esophagus. When symptoms do manifest most commonly the symptoms are similar to the symptoms of GERD, but there can be some significant differences between GERD symptoms and Barrett’s Esophagus symptoms.
In addition to the frequent heartburn and upper abdominal pain that comes with GERD, someone with Barrett’s Esophagus might develop difficulty swallowing food. They may also start to have bloody vomit where the blood is either bright red or small pellets that look similar to ground coffee. There may also be black and tarry blood passed in the stool. If you have any of these symptoms it is important to see your doctor right away.
While most people who develop Barrett’s esophagus have a history of GERD some people who develop it have never had symptoms of heartburn or of GERD.
Barrett’s Esophagus Symptoms Or Something Else?
If you are experiencing other gastrointestinal difficulties, you might want to compare some of the differences of the symptoms between them to better focus the discussion you will have with your doctor. Here are some of the common stomach cancer symptoms and stomach ulcer symptoms to help you differentiate them from Barrett’s and GERD.
Stomach cancer symptoms include a general feeling of fatigue, feeling full even when you don’t eat very much, pain in the stomach, vomiting and weight loss.
The most common of stomach ulcer symptoms is simply an experience of pain in your abdomen which is often worse on an empty stomach and at night. Eating foods that help to absorb stomach acid often help to lessen the pain.
The Importance Of Diagnosis
The most important thing to do if you feel you are experiencing Barrett’s Esophagus symptoms is to get a positive diagnosis from your doctor. The reason for this is that there is an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer if you have Barrett’s esophagus so you need to keep an eye on it.
The risk is small, and the great majority of sufferers do not develop cancer. However, if you are diagnosed, you will want to have regular screenings to avoid the potential development of cancer. Regular screenings will show whether or not there are precancerous cells developing. If precancerous cells are noticed early they can be treated before they turn cancerous.
Barrett’s Esophagus Treatment
There are a variety of treatments available depending on how far your disease has progressed. These treatments include continuing to control the GERD symptoms, which may include an acid reflux diet, and periodic monitoring of the cells in your esophagus to make sure you have no signs of precancerous cells. If your progression does show more precancerous cells, treatments such as ablation of the effected part of the esophagus, removal of the effected portion of the esophagus, or complete removal may be necessary.
As with any serious disease, you should be in regular contact with your doctor to consult with them on the best course of action. Barrett’s Esophagus symptoms should not be ignored in the hopes that they will get better on their own.