Barrett's esophagus is a condition in which the normal cells that line the esophagus turn into specialized columnar cells. Damage to the lining of the esophagus causes the cells to change. Barrett's esophagus develops in people who have chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or esophagitis, which is inflammation of the esophagus.
Some people with Barrett's esophagus may not experience any symptoms. However, the most common indicators in patients that do have symptoms include:
- Blood in vomit or stool
- Waking in the night because of heartburn pain
- Difficulty swallowing
Treatment options are determined by the patient's age, overall health, medical history and the extent of the disease. The goal of treatment is to prevent further damage from acid reflux in the stomach.
Treatment may consist of medication, surgery or a dilation procedure in which an instrument is used to expand the thick, hardened esophagus opening.