What Causes Voice Burn when Singing
Edited by Jerry Rivers, Eng, Lynn, Nuance
Many professionals who use their voice a great deal have had "burnt vocal cords" at some point in their career. This debilitating condition can ruin a career if it's recurring. Although it is brought on by acid reflux, the causes of the acid reflux can vary. Effective treatment can also vary from person to person. If you have pain in your vocal cords, and suffer at times from acid reflux, you can successfully treat this problem.
Acid reflux is also known as acid indigestion, heartburn or pyrosis.
For professional singers and speakers, burnt vocal cords can temporarily halt their live singing performances. It strikes about 10 percent of the population regularly, so you could be its next victim.
What It Is And What Causes It
The causes for this painful condition, and effective treatments can be found below:
- 1Burnt vocal cords are caused by acid reflux, and can ruin a fine singing voice until it's been dealt with. It can even take away a singer's voice completely until the vocal cords heal. Acid reflux happens when acid in the stomach works its way up your esophagus, and into your throat. Stomach acids break down digested food, so it is some powerful stuff! There is a circular muscle called, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Its function is to close, preventing stomach acid from traveling to your esophagus from your stomach.Advertisement
- 2Acid Reflux occurs when stomach acid works its way up from your stomach to your esophagus. This often is evident during pregnancy and when someone is significantly overweight. If you are fond of eating spicy foods, chocolate, or rich foods, you will be more prone to acid reflux. Drinking alcohol and smoking also irritate the LES, causing Acid Reflux. Stress can also be a culprit, causing that "burn" to your vocal cords due to this chemical reaction. Even celebrity singers have to temporarily put their live singing careers on hold, due to this condition. Acid RefluxAdvertisement
can be very painful, and especially hits when the sufferer is lying down. It affects your voice because:
- 2The stomach acid that gets past the cardiac sphincter will inflame the oesophagus, which will affect the larynx (voice box that houses your vocal cords).
- 3You will often feel a sharp pain in your chest and/or abdomen. Other symptoms are nausea, a sensation that you need to burp, a burning in your throat, a foul taste, laryngitis, or a distorted speaking voice.
- 4Acid reflux strikes 10 percent of the adult population, and can feel like a heart attack. It can damage your throat, vocal cords, heart and lungs.
How It Affects Your Performance Voice
Your voice is your instrument, and you need to take great care with it. Here are some of the effects acid reflux can have on your precious voice.
- When singers have reflux acid in their throat, is causes inflammation of the vocal cords, a sore throat, or a hoarse voice.Advertisement
- It can make singing virtually impossible until the inflammation has gone down.
- It can cause your voice to be deeper or thinner. Sometimes acid reflux will even cause total loss of your voice (laryngitis). Therefore, it can also severely hamper your singing voice.
- Lung and throat complications. The acid will inflame your vocal cords. Your singing voice will be impaired during this time. Sometimes, you can inhale the acid into your lungs, causing symptoms like asthma or pneumonia. This will, in turn, affect your breathing.
Effects of Acid Reflux on Your General Health
Some of the serious consequences of gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, are:
- Ulcers can form in your esophagus, and can result in bleeding.
- Stricture, in which the stomach acid in the throat will scar and block food and medicine - due to narrowing of the esophagus.
- Lung and throat problems. The acid can be inhaled into your lungs, causing symptoms like asthma or pneumonia. Without your lungs in top working condition, you will have difficulty singing properly. In time you may develop permanent lung damage.
Treatments for Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease
The treatment for GERD depends on the severity of the disease.
- The first remedy is simple dietary changes, and using over-the-counter medication. This includes antacids or histamines.
- Although propping up your head while you sleep will help the acid reflux, it may put too much stress on your neck. A better way to do this is to actually put a foam wedge under your mattress, so your body is gently sloped - with your head raised. #Alter your lifestyle and diet. If you are overweight, you must lose the extra pounds right now. Having your head propped up on a pillow while sleeping will help.
- Stay away from foods that trigger acid reflux. Too much caffeine, chocolate, fatty foods and spicy foods are known to be trigger foods.
- Stop smoking! Smoking affects the esophageal sphincter, and cuts down on saliva, which acts to neutralize those stomach acids, not mention all of the other destructive effects of smoking to your health, and social life.
- Stay away from eating late at night, and eating too much in one meal.
- When in Rome, do as the Romans - but do not lie down when you eat, or lie down too soon after you eat.
- Wear comfortable clothing. Tight clothes put pressure on your stomach. This can force the acids up into your esophageal sphincter.
- Use throat lozenges or chew gum. Both will boost saliva production, which will help neutralize any stomach acid that works its way up to your esophagus and vocal cords.
- In Indian cultures and Indian restaurants, you might have noticed a bowl of candied fennel seeds at the checkout. There's a very good reason. Most of the herbs that have a liquorish taste - fennel, anise - are excellent at promoting digesting. That's why they are often consumed after a meal. Chew on a teaspoon of either of these two seeds.
- Temporary fix. Take an antacid or a teaspoon of baking soda and water to treat acid reflux.
- If you have more severe acid reflux problems, your body may not respond well to the above treatments.
- Consult with your physician if this condition is on going, or is making a mess of your life. You may have to be hooked up to a proton pump inhibitor, your physician may prescribe Nexium, or a similar drug.
- You may benefit from sessions with a speech pathologist. This has been successful for many, especially professional singers.
- Typically if surgery is needed, it is the laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication. With a tongue twister of a name, this is a procedure in which the surgeon actually wraps part of your stomach around the esophagus at the bottom.
- Sometimes there may even be surgery to repair a hiatus hernia, or the esophageal sphincter that's causing the problem.
Categories : Voice Lessons & Tips
Recent edits by: Lynn, Eng, Jerry Rivers