Is acid reflux affecting your voice?

September 19, 2018

Is your speaking or singing voice being affected by reflux? You may be someone who experiences no symptoms at all or conversely have a range of debilitating symptoms which mean your voice does not perform at its best.

Reflux is common amongst the general adult population and presents as two main types. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the flow of even very small amounts of stomach contents back up into your lower oesophagus (the tube connecting your throat to your stomach) and laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPRD) is where these stomach contents move up the oesophagus and overspill into larynx (voicebox). LPRD is often linked to voice problems and may impact your speaking and singing voice.

Signs of LPRD may include: hoarseness in the morning, sour taste in the mouth, frequent coughing or throat clearing, voice quality issues, burning in the larynx or choking.
Ear Nose and Throat specialists can diagnose reflux by viewing your vocal folds and larynx.
Treatment options may include a behavioural, pharmacological or surgical approach. The latter two are best managed by your doctor. If your speaking voice is impacted, behavioural lifestyle management in conjunction with voice therapy sessions with a speech pathologist to optimise your vocal technique is very effective. These lifestyle management tips may include:

• Remaining upright for one hour after eating or drinking
• Avoiding spicy foods
• Cutting down on caffeine, chocolate, high fat foods and alcohol
• Giving up smoking
• Wearing loose clothing around your abdomen.

Voice therapy sessions may focus on moving your resonance forward, reducing throat clearing or coughing, eliminating tension in the larynx or learning safe voice projection techniques.

This article written in conjunction with Kathleen Connell, Singing Teacher. You can visit Kathleen’s website here: