I receive many emails each week, but none so frequently– and impassioned– as those about acid reflux. It is an increasingly problematic issue for singers, rearing its head at the worst, and often most important times in our careers.
I’ve written articles about reflux before, which you can read here, here, and here. In sharing this latest e-interaction, I hope to give you further information and, most importantly, encouragement and hope.
Thank you, GA, for your generosity in allowing me to share the following.
Your article on reflux made lots of sense. My son is just finishing his musical theatre training and is being courted by a number of agents but he is really struggling with reflux affecting his voice. The ENT has referred him for speech therapy to check how he is using his voice and told him to use the antacid Gaviscon regularly. I feel though, that they haven’t found the cause. My son says the reflux happens at random: after water, with and without eating food, eating only plain rice… he doesn’t know what to do.
He is stressed, I think. He is about to launch into the real world in the very challenging profession of West End musical theatre, but typically he will have physical symptoms rather than discuss how he feels.
My question is about how to best get help. How do you cope when you have to keep singing when you feel your voice is not at its best and you are a point in your career where it feels make or break? The ENT works with singers in a multidisciplinary clinic so that should be a good resource, but I don’t feel any urgency on their part to resolve the problem.
Hi there and thanks for your note. I know how hard this can be and that time is of the essence.
I’m glad the article was helpful; there are actually three in that series, called Vocal Issues, if you’d like to read more. One is about diet specifically, though it sounds like stress may be a main culprit.
Without seeing your son, obviously, I can only speculate… Generally, if fear and/or stress are causing or exacerbating reflux, the desire to use it as an excuse or an ‘out’ becomes powerful. Not consciously of course. Fear, stress and anxiety create it, we become shocked by the symptoms, afraid of them, and then fixate on the problem and think we won’t do a good job because of it. Which, because of our fears– of success, of failure– then becomes a crutch, a reason, and an ‘out’ for why we don’t make it if we don’t make it.
Whatever the cause of reflux, physical (diet or medication related candida in the gut can also be an issue) or emotional, I would encourage him to warm up gently and for longer periods of time and trust his body, himself and his ENT. I would also encourage him to accept the reflux. To not fight it. Take the meds if he wants, though I don’t love them and they are only effective in the short term.
And then, I would encourage him to relax. To hydrate, eat small meals reverently and slowly, think less and meditate more, exercise, stretch, walk, be in nature, and do his best. What we focus on and practice, we become. What we resist persists. And strengthens.
I hope this helps. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any more questions that you and/or your son may have. The very best of wishes and sincere congratulations to him on his terrific achievements and what I know will be a fantastic future in the theater and as important, beyond!