"Over time, the lining of your esophagus changes. You kind of adapt, but it's a condition called Barrett's Esophagus and there's a very, very small risk of developing cancer of the esophagus if you have this condition," Dupont added.
Long-term prescription drugs have been associated with bone loss and fractures. That's why so many sufferers are looking for alternatives.
Evamor Naturally Alkaline Artesian Water has a pH level of 8.8, which is 80 times higher than most bottled waters.
"We're seeing a lot of interest," said Damon Michaels, the company's vice president of marketing. "It's growing by leaps and bounds."
He explained that while marketing the performance water as fresh tasting and pure, they also heard from consumers that it helped alleviate acid reflux.
"The high pH in the water itself helps permanently deactivate or permanently turn off that pepsin and that's where you get relief," said Michaels.
Wendy Nielsen, wife for former Houston Oilers quarterback Giff Nielsen, added, "Water is so important. You need to drink a lot of water and it needs to be high pH."
Wendy has also adopted what's known as the low-acid Alkaline Diet.
She explained, "Just every single part of my health has improved as a result of the way I eat and the way I sleep and I need to exercise, of course. It's not magic. But as I drink lots of this pure water and as I eat things that are much healthier, I feel better. I feel lighter. I have more energy."
She and her daughter-in-law, Taylor, co-author a blog called pHabulife.
"Drinking really, really, good water was really important and just having really, healthy, whole, organic food, just nothing really processed, nothing too sugary, just helped me feel the energy that I needed," said Taylor.
A typical Alkaline Diet lunch is homemade pasta sauce, whole wheat pasta and lots of salad with low acid dressing, even crepes for dessert.
"It's good, common sense: organic, whole, local," said Wendy.
She used to suffer from a chronic cough, which can be a symptom of GERD.
"It was debilitating," said Wendy. "It got to where I'd have to look for exits everywhere because I'd start choking. My goal was to manage it and to make it better. Within three months, I was feeling so much better that I started to make it a way of life."
Dupont agreed that for many GERD sufferers, changes in diet can sometimes help.
He said, "The theory is if you can decrease the acid level, you decrease the activity of this enzyme and so symptomatically, you may be better with the decrease of acid level and this enzyme as well. The jury's still out on these kinds of things, but it certainly can't hurt."
He said despite lifestyle changes, 10 to 15 percent of patients still need long term treatment.
Dupont said that by the time patients make an appointment to see him.
"It's gotten to point where they've failed the 'water test,' so we usually have to try other things," he said.