WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GASTROESOPHAGEAL REFLUX DISEASE AND BARRETT'S ESOPHAGUS?

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dano7744 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is when the hydrochloric acid of the stomach splashes back up the esophagus through an incompetent gastroesophageal sphincter at the distal end of the esophagus. This condition causes pain in the upper abdominal quadrants or pain and a burning sensation in the chest area. This pain can be quite severe and often mimics the pain of AMI.

Barrett's esophagus or esophagitis is a structural, inflammatory  change in the cells that line the distal esophagus (metaplastic cells) . GERD causes Barrett's esophagitis over time, usually years. A pathological tissue change occurs in Barrett's and may lead to adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.

Interestingly, most people experience problems with bleeding in the distal esophagus before they ever reach the stage of Barrett's esophagitis.

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