How is Barrett's Esophagus Treated in Western Medicine?
by N J Howell
Reflux Disease / GERD Diet
General Barretts Disease Info
Symptoms of Barretts Disease
This is part four of a four-part health report on a health challenge called Barrett's Esophagus, also known as Barretts Disease and covers medical treatment options and beneficial lifestyle changes. As a wholistic health advocate, I would take a different path with this health condition and that's another article for the future. Please read the beginning of this series on symptoms, risk factors and treatments - Barrett's Esophagus for a better understanding.
Medical Treatment Optionsfor Barrett's Esophagus
Current treatment of Barrett's Esophagus tends to be aimed more at controlling the symptoms of the pre-existing conditions, such as GERD or acid reflux. This is typically done through medications that block stomach acids and meds that are designed to heal irritated tissues.
Lifestyle changes can do a great deal to help as well:
Losing weight if overweight
Avoiding foods that typically cause reflux
Getting moderate exercise on a regular basis
Resting better at night
Eating more fruits and vegetables
Releasing cigarettes and alcoholic drinks from your life
Reducing the effects of over-stressing and worry.
Proton Pump Inhibitors or PPI's, such as the medication Nexium, are typically prescribed for this condition. These types of medications work by reducing stomach acids.
Histamine blockers are also sometimes used. However, neither the use of histamine blockers or the use of PPI's has been proven to decrease the risk of developing Barrett's and, if you already have developed the condition, these treatments
The risks of using a proton pump inhibitor longterm should be fully explored with your doctor. A recent study showed that longterm use of proton pump inhibitors increases the risk of bone fractures. more on PPI's and bone fractures.
People diagnosed with this condition are often given the same advice from their doctor that would apply to any health challenge; giving up smoking, losing weight if obese, and eating better while avoiding those foods that most frequently trigger an attack.
Photodynamic Therapy, or PDT, is a new treatment that is being used in cases of this health challenge, when it has progressed to the point that there are pre-cancerous cells found in the esophageal area.
PDT was FDA-Approved in 2003 and is a form of light therapy that acts on one-celled organisms. From what I can understand, PDT is less a treatment for Barrett's Esophagus as something that can sometimes reverse pre-cancerous cells and high grade dysplasia.
Surgical procedures are also available for this condition but nothing is known to always work. If diagnosed, be sure to fully discuss the risks and percentage of success for any suggested surgical solution.
Health Disclaimer: If you know you are at greater risk for developing Barretts Disease, because of your age, gender or race, then why not go ahead now and release habits that increase your risk? Get help to stop smoking and stop drinking.