If you experience frequent heartburn, you may have a condition called Barrett’s esophagus. It is among the digestive health issues treated by Brandon Rieders, MD, and Bradley Rieders, MD, of GastroCare LI, in Valley Stream, New York. If you’d like more information or are ready for a diagnostic work-up, call to book a visit today, or use the online scheduling page to find a time that fits your schedule.

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What is Barrett’s esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that affects the tissue lining your esophagus. Your esophagus is a long tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. As food passes through the tube, it eventually encounters your lower esophageal sphincter, a ring of muscle that relaxes and contracts to allow food to enter your stomach.

The sphincter also works to prevent strong stomach acids from moving into the esophagus. When the lower esophageal sphincter begins to fail, acid can damage the tissue lining the lower portion of the esophagus. That is called gastrointestinal reflux disease, or GERD.

When GERD triggers changes in the cells of your esophageal lining, Barrett’s esophagus develops. You may experience difficulty swallowing food or chest pain.

What are the potential complications of Barrett’s esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus can be an uncomfortable condition. Frequent heartburn and regurgitation can occur, making it difficult to enjoy meals. Because you cannot avoid eating and drinking, it’s challenging to find relief from Barrett’s esophagus.

Having this condition also increases your risk of developing esophageal cancer. While it is not a common form of cancer, people with Barrett’s esophagus should come in for routine screenings to search for signs of cancerous cellular changes. When treated early, esophageal cancer can be stopped.

How is Barrett’s esophagus treated?

Once your specialist determines that Barrett’s esophagus is present, treatment options include addressing the underlying condition, which is most frequently GERD. You may be able to find lasting relief by making lifestyle changes like eating smaller meals, losing weight, or changing your position during sleep.

Medications can help by reducing the volume of acid in your stomach. You should also come in for routine biopsies to check for signs of cancer.

Surgery can help by correcting a hiatal hernia or tightening your lower esophageal sphincter. Damaged esophageal tissue can be surgically removed using a scalpel or radiofrequency energy. Cryotherapy can also help by using extremely cold temperatures to remove damaged cells.

If you’re ready to learn more, booking a visit at GastroCare LI is a simple matter of calling the office or using the online scheduling tool.