Natural remedies to relieve symptoms of acid reflux

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The season for holiday heartburn is upon us and there are some natural remedies to relieve the pain of acid reflux. (KABC)

The season for holiday heartburn is upon us!

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects up to one-third of Americans. And we spend $10 billion to treat it.

But not everyone who has reflux needs to take a medication or have surgery. There are some all-natural remedies.

GERD is a condition that happens when stomach contents leak back into the esophagus. Treatments include drugs and surgery, but Cleveland Clinic gastroenterologist Dr. Scott Gabbard says there are also natural remedies.

"Chewing gum actually stimulates your saliva production and helps your esophagus to clear some of the acid," Gabbard said.

Another way to fight GERD: eat smaller meals. Studies show consuming 500 to 600 calories and between 15 and 20 grams of fat at a time decreases heartburn.

Also, shedding excess weight can relieve symptoms.

"Weight loss as little as 10 to 15 pounds has also been demonstrated to greatly improve symptoms of reflux," Gabbard said.

Don't eat three to four hours before bed. And if you experience symptoms at night, doctors are studying a new pillow: in a pilot trial, it reduced reflux by more than 80 percent. It works by elevating the head and forcing patients to lie on their left sides.

"Sleeping on the left side decreases acid and stomach contents from coming up from the stomach into the esophagus," said Gabbard.

Certain foods and beverages such as fried or fatty foods may contribute to the development of GERD.

Primary symptoms can include heartburn, regurgitation, nausea, and chest pain. Seek immediate emergency help for any chest pain or discomfort.

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