Managing Acid Reflux for a Healthy Singing Voice

When I first began studying voice with Maestro David Jones way back in 1999, he noticed something a bit concerning about my singing voice, and that was how different it was from one lesson to the next.

One week I would go into a lesson with a crystal clear singing voice (I have a naturally husky speaking voice) and high notes to spare. Then the next week I would find myself struggling to sing through the passaggio notes Eb4 to F#4, and barely able to sing above G4. On those occasions my normally husky speaking voice would be reduced to a Rod Stewart rasp.

By this time Maestro Jones was just as frustrated as I was with the irregularities in my voice and suggested that I might be suffering from the affects of acid reflux disease (gastroesophageal reflux disease/GERD). I immediately began researching the symptoms and treatments of this silent voice killer, and found that indeed I had ALL of the symptoms of GERD.

By the way, at the time of my diagnosis, I was eating a lot of fried foods such as french fries and fried chicken as well as greasy food like hamburgers followed by large amounts of soda! My diet basically sucked and this compounded the symptoms of reflux big time. The symptoms were a slight burning sensation in my throat, especially at night when I went to bed. Every now and then I would get an eruption of what felt like battery acid into my throat from my stomach, especially when I was driving a car. My throat would feel tight and uncomfortable after one of these eruptions, and swallowing was difficult.

A change of diet was in order and I soon began ridding it of anything that might cause a flare up. Gone were the burgers and fries, pasta with red sauce, fired chicken and for the most part sodas. I also began the process of decreasing my alcohol intake because my doctor said that it was one of the biggest culprits for people who suffer from the affects of acid reflux disease. I completely stopped drinking alcohol in 2005.

While none of these changes were easy, the payoff was huge. My voice became more consistent in it's overall daily function. High notes were more consistent, and the raspiness that had been plaguing me was virtually gone. To this day, I still have to manage the disease and occasionally have flare ups. But by managing my diet, exercising regularly and trying to keep stress to a minimum, the flare ups are rare.

If you think you may have acid reflux disease, I highly recommend seeing a doctor and seeking the best treatment for your body. There are some over the counter medications that work quite well, and there are some that have severe side effects. A few of my students who also suffer from the disease, use an all natural approach rather than traditional medications to combat the effects of GERD.

It is definitely something you will want to get under control as soon as possible if you a fellow sufferer. Recent studies have shown that singers who are prone to nodules and polyps, significantly increase the chance of getting them if reflux is left untreated.

Lesson here: Seek treatment as soon as possible. I hope you find this information helpful. If you have any questions about this topic, please feel free to write in the comments below. If you have found a treatment for reflux that works especially well for you, feel free to share the information here. The more enlightened we are about treatment options available the better.



Jeffrey Stanfill