National Opera Week – Voice Tip #1 – Pay attention to reflux
As part of National Opera Week we got some great tips from The National Center for Voice and Speech to keep your voice in tip-top shape. Check back all week for new tips!
Tip 1. Frequent heartburn and/or a sour taste in your mouth may signal Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which may lead to voice problems.
GERD occurs when a muscle at the top of the esophagus either fails to close properly or spasmodically opens for some period of time. This muscle malfunction sometimes allows fluids from the stomach to flow back up and out of the esophagus and spill into the larynx causing a condition called Laryngo-Pharyngeal Reflux (LPR). Usually an episode of reflux occurs when the individual is lying flat or after having eaten a big meal or spicy foods. The acidic stomach fluids leaking into the larynx will cause inflammation and irritation, but the discomfort and acidic taste will often be gone by the time the voice is used, leaving the individual to wonder why his or her voice is hoarse and breathy. If one experiences long-lasting hoarseness or weakness in tone, an ENT should be consulted. A visual examination of the larynx should indicate whether GERD, LPR or another voice disorder is to blame.
*note* – Even in the absence of heartburn and/or sour taste, silent reflux may be present. Symptoms include frequent throat clearing, coughing, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and the sensation of something stuck in the throat.