Gastro esophageal reflux disease (G.E.R.D.), more commonly called reflux, is being diagnosed a lot more lately due to sensitive new diagnostic equipment.
This condition occurs when digestive acids back up the esophagus and burn the vocal folds. Since the symptoms resemble a good old-fashioned blown voice, many doctors used to write off the symptoms to kamikaze screaming.
They now know that’s not always the case.
Reflux swells the folds, making them unresponsive, and misleads a singer into pushing too hard.
If you can’t afford a visit to an ENT and you suspect you may be dealing with this, there are steps you can take.
- No coffee, smokes, alcohol, sodas, junk food or spicy stuff (Yikes! I know).
- Eating late is also a big no-no.
- Lying down after eating allows digestive juices an easy path to your vocal folds.
Don’t be too quick to mourn the loss of your vices.
We musicians eat terribly for two reasons: cash and convenience.
Eating healthy does not have to cost a fortune or take all your time if you plan ahead. Before the chains ruled the planet, brown bagging a lunch was a way of life.
Pack a bag full of turkey slices, celery, carrots, apples – or any non-citrus fruits or vegetables before heading to work or local gigs. When touring, you should stock up a cooler.
There is some leeway if these steps sound like torture.
After a few weeks of cold turkey (pun intended), ask yourself what you miss the most. Using your voice as the gage, you can discover your particular vocal offenders. Ultimately, the choice comes down to what you’re willing to compromise.
Will it be the music or the Mexican? Are you going to lower your artistic standards or drop the Chalupa?
Mark Baxter has worked as a coach with Aerosmith, Journey, Goo Goo Dolls — and many others. He is the author of The Rock-n-Roll Singer’s Survival, creator of The Singer’s Toolbox instructional DVD, Sing Like an Idol instructional CD. Mark operates vocal studios in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and online via Skype. Visit his website: VoiceLesson