According to a recent report, one in ten Americans suffers from heartburn at least once a week. While occasional acid reflux is not uncommon, in some cases heartburn can point to a more serious health condition like Barrett’s esophagus. A disease in which overexposure to stomach acid causes damage to the esophagus, Barrett’s can lead to esophageal cancer if left untreated.
Knowing your risk factors can help you determine whether or not you should be tested for Barrett’s disease. If you’re concerned about Barrett’s esophagus, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with our GI experts today at (888) 548-7614.
Who Is at Risk of Barrett’s?
Certain characteristics and lifestyle choices may raise your risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus. If you are a member of one of the following groups, or if you’re experiencing persistent heartburn, you should consider getting screened for Barrett’s disease:
1. People with GERD. GERD is a condition in which patients experience continuous stomach acid regurgitation. Most often, doctors diagnose Barrett’s in patients who are suffering from GERD. If you have GERD, you should consider being evaluated for Barrett’s esophagus.
2. People who smoke or drink excessively. Smoking cigarettes and drinking large quantities of alcohol can contribute to acid reflux and potentially raise your risk of developing Barrett’s.
3. People who are obese. Although doctors don’t fully understand the relationship between obesity and Barrett’s disease, being overweight can increase your chance of getting GERD, which is a risk factor for Barrett’s.
4. People who consume an unhealthy diet. Eating too many fried or fatty foods can lead to obesity and increase heartburn and acid reflux.
5. Caucasian males who are over age 50. Men are twice as likely as women to be diagnosed with Barrett’s, and Caucasians are more likely than other ethnic groups to be diagnosed. Barrett’s is most commonly found in white men over the age of 50.
Individuals who fall into one of these groups and are suffering from heartburn symptoms should not hesitate to schedule an upper endoscopy to test for Barrett’s disease.
Do I Need to See a GI Doctor?
Even if you don’t fall into one of the above categories with a heightened risk for Barrett’s, you should consult a GI doctor about any persistent acid reflux issues. People with Barrett’s are much more likely than the rest of the population to develop esophageal cancer. Although this may seem like a scary statistic, early testing and treatment for Barrett’s disease may help reduce your risk of getting cancer.
The doctors at La Peer’s Barrett’s Esophagus Center of Excellence offer effective treatments like endoscopic radiofrequency ablation therapy to remove precancerous cells from the lining of the esophagus. According to a number of studies, ablation helps reduce the progression of both high-grade Barrett’s disease and cancer.
Contact Our Expert Physicians
If you’re concerned that you may be at risk for Barrett’s disease, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation by calling (888) 548-7614 or visit us online. Our board-certified doctors offer state-of-the-art testing and treatment in a beautiful Beverly Hills facility. Contact us today to make an appointment with our world-renowned team.