What is Barrett's Disease?
Barrett's disease, also called Barrett's esophagus, it is caused by repeated injury to esophageal tissue from chronic gastric acid reflux. This causes changes in the makeup and color of the cells which line the lower esophagus. In a healthy person, the mucous membrane lining of the esophagus consists of cellular tissue called squamous epithelium. Barrett's disease is caused by the side effects of having chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).Most people who have GERD do not get Barretts disease.The people who are diagnosed with Barrett's may have a small but higher risk of developing esophageal cancer. People suffering from Barrett's disease are often recommended to follow a similar diet to what is commonly recommended for sufferers of GERD.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
GERD has some common symptoms such as heartburn and reflux, but Barrett's disease in a lot of cases does not seem to promote any definite symptoms. As Barrett's disease progresses, the tissue lining oesophagus becomes less sensitive from the effects of chronic acid reflux. The mucous membrane lining in healthy oesophagus is made up of cellular tissue called squamous epithelium. But constant damage from acid reflux can alter the normal tissue lining, replacing it with cells called columnar epithelium, this type of tissue is normally only found in the stomach and upper intestine
How do doctors diagnose Barrett’s esophagus?
A doctor may diagnose Barrett’s esophagus while performing tests to find the cause of a patient’s (GERD) symptoms or sometimes during a procedure for a stomach problem such as treating an ulcer or other stomach ailment.
Doctors will usually diagnose Barrett’s esophagus whilst doing an upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and if they see unusual tissue growth they will take a biopsy..(a small sample of tissue is removed for examination under a microscope)
Upper GI endoscopy and biopsy
During an upper GI endoscopy, the gastroenterologist, will use an endoscope to look inside your upper GI tract, most often while you receive light sedation. An endoscope is flexible tube with a light and a camera on the end that a surgeon can direct into your throat and stomach it also has special devices that can take small tissue samples for examination. The surgeon will carefully feed the endoscope down through your esophagus and into your stomach and duodenum. During the procedure he might see some changes in the lining of your esophagus.
He may also take a small sample of tissue from the lining of your esophagus through the endoscope. You won’t feel the biopsy. A pathologist will examine the tissue sample in a laboratory and look for signs of columnar epithelium cells indicating the presence of Barrett’s disease.
Treatment and Complications
The Most common recommended medical treatment for Barrett's disease requires prolonged use of proton pump inhibitors, which may slow down the disease, antacids are also prescribed to quickly relieve heartburn. With severe damage to the oesophagus, procedures such as photodynamic therapy, endoscopic mucosal resection and surgery can sometimes be recommended. Complications often involve narrowing of the oesophagus, and can be accompanied by ulcers..
The most serious complication of Barrett's disease is called oesophageal adenocarcinoma if a substance called “specialized intestinal metaplasia” is found during the biopsy then the risk of getting cancer is greatly increased.
The main target in treating Barrett’s disease is to prevent or slow down the development of Barrett's oesophagus by primarily treating and controlling the acid reflux. This is usually done by changing lifestyles and diet as well as using medication.
Lifestyle changes include.
According to diverse research done by many universities and health professionals the most beneficial diet for helping with the symptoms of Barrett’s disease is one that excludes foods that trigger an increase in stomach acids during digestion. According to most of the expert studies trialled on diets for this disease food that should be greatly reduced or eliminated include those that contain caffeine, peppermint, chocolate, spearmint and alcohol .Decaffeinated coffee is also included and is recommended that it should not be consumed at all.
Beneficial foods are those types that are high in complex carbohydrates .Some of these beneficial foods include whole grain breads and pastas, brown rice and other whole grains. These foods absorb some of the excess acid and are much easier for the stomach to digest as they are complete foods. Low acid vegetables such as, beans, green beans baked potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and broccoli are less likely to cause acid reflux. Some people may find however that a certain vegetable that is deemed ok still causes that individual to get heart burn so it is sometimes just a trial and error process of eating different food types and eliminating those that cause a bad reaction. The best way is to just try the vegetables you like one at a time and make a note of those that create a problem. Sufferers of reflux should also avoid raw onions and deep fried vegetables, steamed or raw is the best way to cook most vegetables to avoid this problem.
(I was originally told to avoid tomatoes as they are acidic but usually they don’t cause me any problems and I love tomatoes)
(I personally have a very bad reaction to pork although I can eat small amounts of well grilled bacon )
(I used to get very bad reflux from beer until I found a brand that doesn’t seem to upset me-unless I drink too much of it, most spirits and wines give me heartburn. I usually put quarter of a teaspoon of bi-carb of soda in a full glass of water before going to bed after drinking beer and I’m usually ok )
Alternative Treatments and programs for acid reflux ,heart burn or gerd.
Apart from the conventional medical treatment for acid reflux which is the root cause of gerd there are some natural treatments out there that work with out the use of dangerous drugs .
These alternative treatments use a compilation of natural remedies that help your body to repair the root cause of the reflux in the first place and help to avoid the use of drugs that only mask or temporary relive the symptons .
How You Eat and the most important things you should do after eating.
If you have Barrett’s disease or other forms of GERD it is most important to adopt a different style of eating than you did before. Changing the way you eat, what you eat and how much you eat along with the type of activities you do after a meal can drastically reduce the symptoms of gastric reflux.
The enzymes in your saliva will help to break down the food and also balance the acid levels as saliva is naturally slightly alkaline. If you enjoy the occasional glass of fruit juice try making saliva in your mouth as you drink, try to drink a couple of mouthfuls at a time and let you glands produce saliva in between gulps.(the best way to digest fruit is to actually eat the whole fruit as the process of chewing actually induces your salivary glands to make saliva)
( I personally have found the tip about trying to eat and drink while mentally trying to produce saliva with my food helps me the most from getting heart burn)
But every time I am in a hurry and just scoff my food down or just gulp down a glass of fruit juice on the run I ALWAYS get heart burn directly after and then need to take an anti-acid .)
Plan your meal times
Lose Weight Being overweight can increase your risk of having reflux. Excess weight and body fat can put pressure on the stomach especially during sleep and can cause reflux more readily.
Sleeping habits and position
People with reflux will experience fewer problems if they adopt a routine of having food at least 3to four hours before going to bed. Even a light snack can trigger reflux during the night. They should also take all medications with food and plenty of water. Tilting your bed so that your head is about 8 inches (12 cms) higher than your feet can also help as this can help to stop acid from flowing up into your esophagus while you sleep.
Doctors recommend taking regular prescribed medications such as the 4 types below.
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