Barrett’s Esophagus was first diagnosed by Norman Rupert Barrett (1903-1979) He was educated at Eton and Trinity College in Cambridge. After graduating from St. Thomas Hospital in 1928 he became a surgeon at Thomas’ and Brampton Hospitals in London. He was one of the first medical professionals to recognize and describe the transformation of the esophageal lining.
The cells of the lining of the esophagus are normally flat and are known as “squamous cells.” In Barrett’s Esophagus the cells have changed to a more rectangular type of cell called a “columnar cell” which is the same type of cell found in your stomach.
The only way to tell if you have Barrett’s is have an endoscopy done at the doctor’s or other health professional’s office. If the doctor sees something that looks suspicious, he or she will take biopsies from your esophagus and send them to the lab for testing.
If the test comes back positive then you will have to be re-tested every few months, so the doctor can monitor the condition.
Although the medical community doesn’t know the exact cause of Barrett’s Esophagus, it is believed to be linked to the acidic stomach gases which have constantly refluxed into the esophagus. The stomach has a lining which protects it from the stomach acid but your esophagus does not, so the constant assault of stomach acid on your esophagus may cause the cells in the lining of the esophagus to change, resembling the acid resisting columnar cells present in your stomach.
The human body is amazing and has the ability to heal its self given the right help, and this just might be nature’s way of protecting the esophagus from any more damage, simply by changing the cell structure so it can tolerate the refluxed stomach acid.
The majority of people never experience any pain with esophageal cancer until the cancer has spread to their lymph nodes or other organs, so let your doctor monitor the situation if you have been diagnosed with Barrett’s. Although the chance of Barrett’s Esophagus developing into cancer is very small (around 1-1 1/2%) why take chances with your health?
If the health community is in agreement that reflux just might be one factor that is causing Barrett’s Esophagus, then one of the most important things you can do is find out the exact cause of your reflux and then stop your acid reflux from occurring. Once you do this you will halt the constant assault of acidic stomach gases that just might be causing more damage to the delicate cells of your esophagus.