Barretts Esophagus

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What Causes Barretts Esophagus?

If GERD is not controlled by lifestyle changes and diet modifications, acid reflux disease could lead to serious problems for the sufferer.

In extreme cases, complications cause by the continuous presence of acid in the food pipe could eventually become a life-threatening condition known as Barretts Esophagus.

Constant burning and erosion of the walls of the esophagus is a chronic disease which might create a domino effect leading to a number of painful malady's.


Complications leading to Barrett's Esophagus

The first sign of this life-threatening cycle is a condition known as esophagitis.

If this condition is not accurately diagnosed and treated, multiple problems could develop, including barretts esophagus.

Here's a list of possible complications:

  • Pain.

    Esophagitis is a painful condition that could lead to dysphagia. This condition makes it almost impossible to swallow.
  • Scarring.

    Continuous onslaught of acids causes longitudinal scarring to the walls of the esophagus, particularly where it joins the stomach. This could cause the opening to pucker and shrink. This shrinkage creates a srticture thereby blocking the passage of food and making it difficult to swallow.
  • Ulcers.

    Lesions known as ulcers form on the weakened walls of the esophagus causing further scarring. These scars also pucker and tend to shrink the lining, leading to the same condition described above.
  • Bleeding.

    Ruptured ulcers can bleed profusely. On many occasions this bleeding has necessitated hospitalization followed by emergency blood transfusion.
  • Asthma.

    Acid invasion triggers a nerve impulse that causes the airways to dilate. This can induce an asthma attack, which, if left unchecked, could result in ongoing chronic asthma.
  • Lung damage.

    The gullet forks into two tubes at the back of the throat; the trachea, which is the air-pipe leading to the lungs, and the esophagus, which is the food-pipe leading to the stomach.

    If the acid washes high enough, it could be aspirated into the trachea, reach the lungs, and cause inflammation and permanent damage.

    This could result in hoarseness, laryngitis, choking, coughing and difficulty in breathing.

  • Barrett's esophagus

    Finally, barretts esophagus. Due to the ongoing invasion of digestive fluids in the lower esophagus, the body might attempt a system of damage control, which could lead to the onset of cancer.
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Dysplasia - The Seeds of Cancer

To withstand the onslaught of acid, the walls of the esophagus undergo a cellular change know as Dysplasia, (sometimes referred to as Metaplasia).

This is where the body replaces normal cells with precancerous abnormal cells resembling those of the stomach and intestinal lining.

This stage is known as "low grade dysplasia" related to Barretts esophagus.

Although these rogue cells are more resistant to acid attack, in five to ten percent of patients, they eventually lose their tissue identity and revert back to a primitive form that grows rapidly without regulation.

The final stage is is 'high grade dysplasia', a condition known as ‘carcinoma in situe’.

This particular form of cancer remains localized and does not invade past the basement membrane into tissue below the surface.

As a result, it can still be treated surgically, with few risks of it spreading to other parts of the body via a process known as "metastasis".

However, if left untreated, it eventually develops into a deadly form of invasive esophageal cancer that is almost always fatal..

We cannot overstress the following: Every one of these complications can easily be avoided by sensible and timely changes to your diet and lifestyle.

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