Barrett’s Esophagus Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Get the basics about acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD. One novel approach to the treatment of GERD is chewing gum. Chewing gum stimulates the production of more bicarbonate-containing saliva and increases the rate of swallowing. After the saliva is swallowed, it neutralizes acid in the esophagus. In effect, chewing gum exaggerates one of the normal processes that neutralize acid in the esophagus. It is not clear, however, how effective chewing gum is in treating heartburn. Nevertheless, chewing gum after meals is certainly worth a try. Although acid reflux is extremely common and rarely serious, don’t ignore your acid reflux symptoms. Making a few lifestyle changes and using over-the-counter antacids are often all you need to control acid reflux symptoms.

If you are able, try raising the head of the bed by 10-20 cm (for example, with books or bricks under the bed’s legs). This helps gravity to keep acid from refluxing into the oesophagus. If you do this, do not use additional pillows, because this may increase tummy (abdominal) pressure. There are potentially injurious agents that can be refluxed other than acid, for example, bile. Until recently it has been impossible or difficult to accurately identify non-acid reflux and, therefore, to study whether or not non-acid reflux is injurious or can cause symptoms.

Acid reflux can be prevented in some cases by changing the habits that cause the reflux including avoiding alcohol , not smoking , limiting fatty foods and other food triggers, maintaining a healthy body weight, and avoiding large meals within 3 hours of bedtime. Patients with high grade dysplasia may often be found to have cancer. Therefore, the first order of management sources tell me when high grade dysplasia is found is to exclude the presence of an adenocarcinoma. If the diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus is uncertain, a second opinion should be obtained because this diagnosis may generate greater costs than GERD alone as well as problems with obtaining life, health, and disability insurance. Therefore, it is critical to make an accurate diagnosis.

For chronic reflux and heartburn, the doctor may recommend medications to reduce acid in the stomach. These medicines include H2 blockers, which inhibit acid secretion in the stomach. H2 blockers include: cimetidine ( Tagamet ), famotidine ( Pepcid ), nizatidine ( Axid ), and ranitidine ( Zantac ). Throughout the remainder of this section, the term esophageal cancer will refer to adenocarcinoma arising from the Barrett’s esophagus. Metoclopramide , a prokinetic medicine, speeds up the passage of food through the stomach. It is not commonly used but can help in some cases, particularly if you have marked bloating or belching symptoms.

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