What is Barrett's esophagus?

Barrett's esophagus results from an irritation in the lining of the esophagus (food tube) caused by chronic reflux (flowing backward) of the contents from the stomach and small intestine into the esophagus. The irritation causes the lining of the esophagus to change and become similar to the lining of the intestine and stomach.

What are the symptoms of Barrett's esophagus?

Barrett's esophagus does not cause signs or symptoms, but because there is a strong link between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Barrett's esophagus, symptoms of Barrett's esophagus may be similar to those of GERD. The symptoms might include:

  • A burning sensation under the chest.
  • Regurgitation (backing up) of stomach acids.
  • Difficulty swallowing. (Note: This symptom requires immediate medical attention.)

What risk factors are associated with Barrett's esophagus?

There are a number of risk factors for the development of Barrett's esophagus, including:

  • Symptoms of GERD.
  • Obesity.
  • Increasing age.
  • Caucasian ethnicity.
  • Male gender.
  • Family history of Barrett's esophagus.