I totally agree...pillows definitely can cause problems, as they bend your body at the stomach, and put more pressure on it, thus increasing, rather than decreasing the likelihood of acid migrating into the esophagus.
That said, if someone was very careful, and built a wedge-type structure with the pillows, it might be an okay stopgap measure. There are times with travel, I've had to make do with that type of setup.
Interestingly, we went on a cruise, and they actually had a large wedge that they put under the mattress when I described my needs. That was a real surprise, and definitely not something you'd find everywhere.
I don't think you can recreate the value of a raised head of the bed, though. That is always preferable. Most loving spouses who want you to get better, will accommodate that need. It takes a little getting used to, but honestly, once you're used to it, it seems very strange to sleep flat.
So my overwhelming vote is for raising the head of the bed. It is far superior to any other method. I've used bed risers with two cut pieces of 2X4 for stability on a rug. Anyone who's got nighttime (even silent) reflux issues should do whatever it takes to get the head of their bed elevated 7-8". Sure you might slide down a bit, and have to re-position yourself once a night, but the results are worth it.
PS...I had a blood clot in my leg after a foot surgery, so I need to wear my compression stockings to bed because the elevation allows blood to pool, but again, well worth anything required to protect my lungs from any possibility of errant reflux.
Nissen Fundoplication 2/09
"Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.”
“Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose”
“Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”