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Ep.102: Singing Problems and Acid Reflux: You may have it without knowing!

This video talks about two forms of acid reflux. One kind you feel as heartburn and you know when you have it and why.


The other reflux is common but you don’t know you have it. However, it can also cause problems with your voice and singing. Inside this video you’ll learn how to recognize the effects of reflux on your vocal cords and what steps to take to protect your voice!


Singing Problems and Acid RefluxSinging Problems and Acid Reflux

I have reflux. But it’s not the heartburn kind. That’s called GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. It hurts. You know it when you have it. It burns in your chest and throat. You take Tums or Pepto Bismol for relief. It can fry your vocal cords with the acid from your stomach.


That’s not the reflux I have. I have a silent kind of reflux. I didn’t even know I had it until I injured my vocal cords when singing sick. The ENT doctor scoped my cords and found nodules on the false cords and moderate reflux. He said the reflux was making it difficult for the nodules to heal because acid was irritating my injury.


Singing Problems and Acid Reflux - it's Yucky

Yuck.  My kind of reflux was silent to me because I didn’t feel heartburn. It’s called LPR which stands for Laryngopharyngeal Reflux. Here are the causes, symptoms and treatment options.


Singing Problems and Acid Reflux – LPR Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

I’m quoting from the Cleveland Clinic’s online information found here.

Singing Problems and Acid Reflux - LPR


“Acid made in the stomach travels up the esophagus (swallowing tube). When that stomach acid gets to the throat, it is called laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).”


“Anyone can get LPR, but it shows up more often as people age. People who have certain dietary habits, people who consistently wear tighter fitting or binding clothing, people who are overweight, and people who are overstressed are more likely to have laryngopharyngeal reflux.”  


“There are many symptoms of LPR, all of which relate to sensations in the throat. Fifty percent of people with LPR do not have symptoms of heartburn or an upset stomach. When there are symptoms, they include:

  • Mild hoarseness
  • Sensation of a lump in the throat
  • Need to clear the throat
  • Sensation of mucous sticking in the throat and/or post-nasal drip
  • Chronic cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sore throat
  • Red, swollen, or irritated voice box


Personally, I was always clearing my throat. I always had post nasal drip. I also had congestion in my chest even when I didn’t have a cold. Periodically I had soreness here for seemingly no reason.

When I sing with LPR my cords feel thick and heavy. Everything feels harder to do. So I try and control it. What I really don’t want is the acid to burn my vocal cords and cause permanent hoarseness, permanent damage.


To decrease your chance of LPR:


  • Eat acidic, spicy, and fatty foods
  • Drink alcohol
  • Smoke tobacco
  • Drink caffeine-containing beverages (tea, coffee, soda, etc.)
  • Eat chocolate
  • Eat mint or mint-flavored foods
  • Wear tight or binding clothing
  • Become overly stressed – learn tools to help manage or reduce stress levels


  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid eating less than 2 hours before bedtime”


Singing Problems and Acid Reflux – Treatment

“There are treatment options for people who have LPR. Most of the treatments can also be used as prevention measures.

  • Follow a bland diet (low acid levels, low in fat, not spicy)
  • Eat frequent, small meals
  • Lose weight
  • Avoid the use of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine
  • Do not eat food less than 2 hours before bedtime
  • Elevate your head when you sleep. I use a couple of pillows.
  • Avoid clearing of the throat
  • Take medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, as directed by a doctor.
  • In very severe cases, surgery may be recommended as treatment

I take medications prescribed by my doctor to treat my LPR. I think it helps.


I’m not a doctor and I don’t diagnose or prescribe treatment.


If you suspect you have acid reflux, go see an ENT doctor. I recommend one who specializes in the voice.



Here are links related to reflux that will be helpful.


Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 8.40.28 AM

Here’s a video of my doctor, David Palmer, talking about reflux:



The effects of Gastric Acid on the vocal cords:



Not all hoarseness is caused by reflux



Caring for your voice is a top priority if you love to sing and want to sing all of your life.


One way to care for your voice is to understand your vocal type and do exercises that eliminate vocal weaknesses and improve your voice.


Do you know your vocal type? Go to PowerToSing.com and take the vocal test, which I call the PowerTest. Take the quiz and discover your vocal type.


Then go to the Knowledge Center and watch the videos about your vocal type. Download the free exercises for your vocal type and start improving your voice immediately.


I’m Chuck Gilmore with PowerToSing.  You can sing higher with beauty, confidence and power.


I’ll see you inside the next video.


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