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What is Barrett's syndrome?

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Quick Answer

Barrett's syndrome, commonly referred to as Barrett’s esophagus, is a serious complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, states WebMD. The tissue lining of the esophagus, or the tube that connects the mouth and the stomach, changes to resemble the intestinal lining.

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What is Barrett's syndrome?
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Full Answer

The symptoms of Barret’s esophagus are not specific, but are mostly related to those of GERD. They include heartburn, chronic cough, nausea and laryngitis. Not all patients with GERD develop Barrett’s syndrome, but the risk increases by about 10 percent for those with long-term GERD. The syndrome can also be a risk factor, in rare circumstances, for a fatal esophageal cancer known as adenocarcinoma.

Barret’s esophagus is only diagnosed with an upper endoscopy and biopsy. It is recommended for people with multiple risk factors, such as those over the age of 50, males, Caucasians, people who are overweight, people with long-term GERD, and those with hiatal hernia.

Treatment of Barret’s esophagus includes prevention or slowing down of its growth by controlling and treating acid reflux. Acid reflux comes about when the acid produced in the stomach for food digestion flows backward into the esophagus. Although acid reflux does not always lead to Barrett's syndrome, frequent acid reflux may in the long run cause the tissue lining of the esophagus to change.

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