Barrett's esophagus does not exhibit specific symptoms, though patients with the disorder may experience symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, including heartburn; a sour, burning sensation in the throat; coughing; laryngitis; and nausea, according to WebMD. Barrett's esophagus also increases the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma, a cancer of the esophagus.
Barrett's esophagus is a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, also known as chronic acid reflux, and it involves the tissue lining of the esophagus changing and resembling that of the intestinal lining. However, only about 10 percent of individuals suffering from chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease develop Barrett's esophagus, notes WebMD.
Acid reflux means that stomach acid flows backward into the esophagus, causing the related symptoms. Long-term acid reflux is the primary risk factor for developing Barrett's esophagus, and other factors that increase the risk of developing the disorder include being white, male, obese, 50 or older, and a smoker, reports WebMD.
Because there are no specific symptoms, Barrett's esophagus can only be diagnosed through endoscopy, the use of a camera to examine the esophagus. Treatment of Barrett's esophagus revolves around treating acid reflux, either with lifestyle changes or medications such as proton-pump inhibitors and antacids. Lifestyle changes that may improve acid reflux include avoiding alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and fatty and spicy foods; losing weight; and sleeping with the head elevated, suggests WebMD.