Acid Reflux

Acid Reflux Specialist

Acid reflux causes the unpleasant, raw pain known as heartburn and can ultimately lead to more serious problems, including esophageal cancer. If you have acid reflux that doesn’t improve with conservative treatments, highly skilled surgeon Jacob Rinker, MD, FACS, and his team at Wyoming Medical Associates can help. They perform expert procedures like Nissen fundoplication, artificial esophageal sphincter insertion, and hiatal hernia repair at their locations in Gillette and Casper, Wyoming. Call the office nearest you to find out more or book an appointment online today.

Acid Reflux Q & A

What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux is an unpleasant problem that you might know better as heartburn. It occurs when corrosive stomach acid flows up your esophagus (refluxes) and burns the delicate tissues.

The reason why stomach acid can escape and travel up your esophagus is that there’s a fault in the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is a muscular ring at the base of your esophagus.

The LES forms a seal that opens when you swallow to let food into your stomach but stays closed the rest of the time to prevent acid from escaping. If your LES is too weak or gets damaged and can’t form a seal, stomach acid can flow up, causing heartburn.

Chronic acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Without treatment, GERD can lead to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, where cells that would normally line your gastrointestinal tract start to grow in your esophagus. This condition can develop into esophageal cancer.

What causes acid reflux?

Acid reflux is typically a result of being overweight and engaging in unhealthy habits like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and a high-fat diet. It can also be a side effect of some medications and is a common problem in pregnancy, especially as the fetus gets bigger.

You might find that certain foods or activities trigger an attack of acid reflux. Rich or spicy food, caffeine, and fizzy drinks can be a particular problem, as is overfilling your stomach by eating too much. Hiatal hernias can also be responsible for acid reflux.

In the early stages of acid reflux and GERD, changing your lifestyle can effectively resolve the problem. Medications that reduce the levels of acid in your stomach are also beneficial.

However, more advanced cases or those that don’t respond to other therapies might require surgery.

Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Common signs and symptoms of GERD include:

  • A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which might be worse at night
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat

If you have nighttime acid reflux, you might also experience:

  • Chronic cough
  • Laryngitis
  • New or worsening asthma
  • Disrupted sleep
What surgery might I need for acid reflux?

There are several ways in which the Wyoming Medical Associates surgical team can help with acid reflux:

LES surgery

One method is to perform a procedure that reinforces the LES. Nissen fundoplication is the most common approach, in which your surgeon wraps the top part of your stomach around the bottom section of your esophagus.

An alternative is to use an artificial esophageal sphincter — a magnetic device that replaces your LES.

Bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery is a way of helping severely obese people to lose weight. Surgery involves having alterations made to your stomach that reduce its size so you can’t eat very much. 

Some procedures also affect the digestive process, so food passes through your body without all the nutrients being properly absorbed.

Hernia repair

If your acid reflux is due to a hiatal hernia, the Wyoming Medical Associates team can perform hernia surgery to repair and reinforce the hole in your diaphragm.

If you have acid reflux that isn’t improving with lifestyle changes and medication, call Wyoming Medical Associates or book an appointment online today.