Barrett's esophagus is a serious complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, that does not have any specific symptoms, according to WebMD. Patients may have symptoms related to GERD, such as heartburn; a sour, burning sensation in the back of the throat; chronic cough; laryngitis; and nausea.
In Barrett's esophagus, normal tissue lining the esophagus changes to tissue that resembles the lining of the intestine, explains WebMD. About 10 percent of people with chronic symptoms of GERD develop Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus increases the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is a serious, potentially fatal cancer of the esophagus. Less than 1 percent of people with Barrett's esophagus develop this particular cancer. Individuals at greatest risk for developing Barrett’s esophagus are white males who have had long-term GERD, the onset of GERD at a younger age, and a history of current or past smoking.
Barrett’s esophagus is diagnosed with an upper endoscopy and biopsy, states WebMD. Acid reflux is treated and controlled by adopting a diet that limits or avoids fatty foods, chocolate, caffeine, spicy foods and peppermint. Alcohol, caffeinated drinks and tobacco should also be avoided. Losing weight, not lying down for three hours after eating, and sleeping with the head elevated are recommended. Medications, such as proton pump inhibitors and antacids, are often prescribed.