What It Is Like Having Barrett’s Esophagus
You have probably heard my cohost Joey and I talking and joking about it on-air before, but what exactly is it?
For years now I have had this condition that I can only describe as "my throat just gets really small in one place."
This means food gets stuck very, very easily. Seriously, just last night I was eating a carrot and some got stuck in there.
Before I knew I have what is medically referred to Barrett's Esophagus, I just knew I would have to eat very, very slowly and still do to this day. If I forget, food getsstuck so easily and so packed in there that nothing helps get it out other than to make myself throw up (too much information, I know).
Taking a big gulp of my drink would not help getting whatever's stuck to go down, in fact the liquid would actually come back up through my nose and then make me feel like I was suffocating.
Now, every few years, I have to go to a specialist and get a scope done with a little "balloon" attached to "stretch my throat."
Honestly, while it is pretty serious, I do relish in joking about it. I guess my self-deprecating sense of humor fits well here.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, here are some more specifics on the causes, symptoms and risks of not treating this disorder.
Symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic, include, heartburn, acid reflux, difficulty swallowing food, and sometimes chest pain.
While Mayo Clinic also says the exact cause isn't pinpointed, for many people it comes after "long-standing GERD" though some people have no tangible feelings of reflux, it can be a condition they call "silent reflux."
"Whether this acid reflux is accompanied by GERD symptoms or not," Mayo Clinic says. "Stomach acid and chemicals wash back into the esophagus, damaging esophagus tissue and triggering changes to the lining of the swallowing tube, causing Barrett's esophagus."
If you leave this untreated, you do have a slightly increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.
My own treatment(s) for this are to just eat slowly, avoid foods that give me bad acid reflux, taking antacids, and getting my "throat stretching" procedure which I now know is actually called "Esophageal dilation" paired with a "sedated endoscopy."
Funnily enough (not funny 'ha-ha' but ironic), Mayo Clinic says white men over 50 are the most likely demographic to have this and I just happen to be a woman in her 20's whose had this since she was 14!
If you think you might have this as well, see a GI specialist and get yourself screened.
Looking for more health tips? Here's some information on dehydration!