RX for Singers: What is Acid Reflux?

While a sore throat can be a minor inconvenience in most professions, it can mean disaster for the singer. But before you brew another pot of tea with honey, you ought to make sure your problem really lies in the throat and not in the stomach. When digestive acids splash up into the esophagus and inflame the surrounding tissues they can cause “reflux laryngitis”, symptoms of which can be a chronic sticking pain or a constant lump in the throat. In severe cases, scar tissue may develop on the vocal cord, but usually the cords themselves are not effected.

Despite this, the singer can still strain his voice by constantly adjusting his technique to accommodate that lump or tightness in the throat. Tissues produce extra protective mucus in response, resulting in a low-grade chronic cough and constant throat clearing. These last symptoms, besides driving a singer crazy, can damage her vocal cords. “Reflux” can also trigger asthma symptoms.

To treat the condition, one must limit acid production and keep it away from the throat.


Tips on Preventing Acid Reflux –

The following tips can provide dramatic relief in about a week.

  • Eat smaller amounts of food in one sitting, and eat more slowly.
  • Don’t eat or drink for two hours before bedtime, and don’t lie down after meals.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate and soda), citrus juices, fatty, fried or spicy foods, peppermints, spearmints and tomatoes-they all increase acid production.
  • Cut out activities involving lifting or straining that cause tension in the upper body, like crunches or bench presses, and wear loose abdominal garments.
  • Stop smoking, at least temporarily to strengthen muscles between the esophagus and the stomach.
  • Elevate your head when you sleep, and sleep on the left side of your body. This will prevent stomach contents from spilling into the throat.
  • Take one tablespoon of antacid after each meal, but not before checking with your doctor, especially if you are taking any other medications, including antibiotics, anti-depressants and asthma medications.

These lifestyle changes could do wonders for your technique as well as your peace of mind.

 Meg Belviso, Managing Editor