Most people who have Barrett’s oesophagus aren’t aware of it until their doctor makes the diagnosis. The main sign that you have this complication of acid reflux is that the cells lining your oesophagus appear redder than usual when the doctor examines them through an endoscope. However, there are some signs that you might be at risk of Barrett’s oesophagus.
Barrett’s oesophagus usually develops when your throat has been damaged by acid and bile escaping from your stomach. It takes a long time this damage to occur, so you shouldn’t worry about the occasional heart burn after a big meal. However, if you frequently suffer from acid reflux, you could be at risk. You may also notice some other symptoms that could indicate that the lining of your oesophagus is being damaged:
- Frequent heartburn or indigestion
- Feeling sick or vomiting, often right after you’ve eaten and sometimes with blood in the vomit
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth that doesn’t go away, especially if it is metallic
- Finding it more difficult to swallow your food
If you’re concerned about these symptoms, they’ve persisted for more than a couple of weeks, or there is any blood in your vomit, then you should seek advice from a doctor. You’ll get help to control your symptoms and the doctor will be able to check to see if your throat has been affected by Barrett’s oesophagus.
It is important to seek treatment for persistent acid reflux to prevent further damage to your oesophagus. Although the risk is still low, long term reflux can increase the risk of developing oesophageal cancer if it triggers Barrett’s oesophagus. You will need to have regular check ups if your throat has been affected, to ensure that any potentially cancerous cells are eliminated.