What Is Barrett’s Esophagus?
Barrett’s esophagus is a medical condition that develops after a series of health complications affect the function of the intestines and or esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus transforms the lining of the esophagus into a lining similar to that of the small intestine. This change is usually caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD creates chronic inflammation in the lower esophageal sphincter.
How does GERD lead to Barrett’s esophagus?
The lower esophageal sphincter is a crucial part of the digestion process. The sphincter is responsible for controlling the flow of food and acid in the stomach/esophagus area. When the sphincter is working properly, food passes through the esophagus to the stomach. All the acids and bile in the stomach are locked out of the esophagus by the lower esophageal sphincter. A weak or compromised esophageal sphincter will stop filtering out food and acids/bile. The acids and bile flow back into the stomach area causing acid reflux, heartburn, and other similar conditions.
Will Barrett’s esophagus give me a sore throat?
Sore throats are a side effect of GERD. People with GERD may experience coughing, difficulty swallowing, and hoarseness. Furthermore, fried foods and chocolate can further exacerbate the problem. Esophagitis is a GERD-related throat condition that develops when the lining of the throat becomes inflamed due to stomach acids. Another condition, dysphagia, is the result of scar tissue growing within the esophageal lining, making hard for a person to swallow food. A third condition, benign esophageal stricture, is the narrowing of the esophagus from stomach acid.
An ENT can determine if the patient is suffering from laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). This is a specific type of acid reflux in which the acid travels right through the esophagus up to the throat and mouth. Frequently, patients with LPR experience these symptoms:
- Frequent coughing
- Excess mucus
- Burning sensation
- Post-nasal drip
How can an ENT help?
An ENT is focused primarily on the head and neck regions of the body to treat a variety of illnesses. These healthcare providers can treat people with GERD or other gastrointestinal issues. The best approach for any patient is to speak with a primary care physician before seeing a specialist and to research different ENTs before choosing a specialist.