Barrett's Oesophagus is caused by chronic gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). GORD is a disorder in which regurgitation of stomach contents into the oesophagus can cause injury and inflammation of the oesophageal lining, which in some patients can result in the development of Barrett's oesophagus. A common symptom of GORD is heartburn, an uncomfortable burning sensation behind the breastbone, usually occurring after a meal or at night while lying in bed. In some individuals, reflux is frequent or severe enough to cause more significant problems such as erosive esophagitis and difficulty swallowing. GORD is usually treated with anti-acid medications. In some patients with Barrett's oesophagus, GORD symptoms may not be present.
If a patient has a history of daily GORD symptoms, they should ask their doctor if they are at risk for Barrett's Oesophagus.
Approximately 13% of Caucasian men over the age of 50, who have chronic reflux, will develop Barrett's oesophagus. In a study conducted by the Veteran Affairs and Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA; 25% of patients > 50 years old without GORD symptoms were found to have Barrett's oesophagus.
The new formed Barrett's oesophagus tissue may become a protective barrier from stomach acid.