Individuals with chronic acid reflux or frequent heartburn are at risk for a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s is a pre-cancerous condition, which left untreated, puts individuals at a higher risk for developing a certain type of cancer known esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Barrett’s esophagus occurs as the result of injury to the esophagus from the chronic backwash of stomach contents (like acid and enzymes) that occurs with acid reflux. Persistent acid reflux, commonly known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), is widespread in American adults.
Symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus
Barrett’s esophagus does not directly produce symptoms. However, it often occurs as a result of chronic acid reflux, which produces symptoms such as:
- Heartburn or chest pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sore throat, hoarse voice or chronic cough
- Sour or acidic taste in mouth
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Dysphagia (difficulty or pain with swallowing)
Barrett’s Esophagus Risk Factors
There are a few risk factors that increase the chances of developing Barrett’s esophagus, including a history of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), hiatal hernia or unhealthy eating habits.