Posts Tagged ‘acid reflux’

Acid reflux, vocal cords, and acupuncture

January 7, 2010

The question is asked how does acid reflux affect singing highs and why a particular singer found that acupuncture worked for him.   See’s discussion forum

Acid reflux doesn’t just affect the vocal cords, but the entire vocal tract.   Just a little bit of acid, and I would even suggest acidic fumes, can weaken the entire vocal tract.   This means that acid reflux affects the resonace control and vocal cords.

My opinion is:  if you have major acid reflux, you’ll know quickly–you’ll lose the entire vocal tract control–can’t sing in tune.   Minor acid reflux affects the quality of the control.   Remember that the vocal cords alone sound tinny, and that your resonance creates the full sound, and then you’ll better understand how acid reflux works.  

Knowing this, here’s how Nexium and other proton inhibitors work.   These reduce the amount of acid and possibly acidic fumes that weaken your vocal tract, and hence improve your singing quality control.

One can also reduce acid by changing diet (eat less, less fatty foods that require more digestion time), losing weight (my guess is less pressure on the stomach and vocal tract), and other well-known methods.

Lesser known–one can reduce the acid by manipulating your body posture.  Don’t lie down horizontally (even when sleeping; sleep at an incline), sit straight, try to strengthen the lower esophageal valve, and also the upper esophageal valve (I hope I said these correctly).   These are described in my blog   Lift up the entire rib cage–not by a deliberate mental lift, but by relaxing and toning the entire spine and thorax and abdomen muscles and myofasica.  Much of vocalposture is about this process.   You’ll sing better and relieve acid reflux at the same time.

As for acupuncture, massage, etc., as mentioned in the question    These can work as well.   How, precisely?   One of the comments said earlier is that there is no “scientific proof” that these work.   Indeed, there is little “scientific proof” these don’t work either.   Just because something isn’t proven, doesn’t mean it’s false; though it may be suspect. 

Remember though that there are usually more false methods than true ones, so suspect is suspect.  However, it is not true that suspect is false–some suspect methods may very well work.

There is abundant evidence that acupuncture and massage do affect the circulatory, nervous, and muscular-tension systems.  If one accepts these, then one can view one’s relief through these therapies sensibly.

Acid reflux is primarily due to too much pressure causing the stomach contents to go up to the throat.  

Acupuncture, massage, etc. may be helping by relieving tension (thereby reducing pressure), by relaxing your vocal tract (which may be tense from continous exposure to acid reflux), or by simply improving your vocal tract muscular performance.  Anyhow, all these make sense by understanding the posture of the vocal tract, which is what is about.

I hope this helps.

Look for –my new invention!


Excess saliva and singing

June 13, 2009

A question was asked that a singing student has excessive saliva that interrupts her singing. How can this be solved?

Are you using a lot of flourides?    Anticavity mouthwash, flouride gelcams?   These can cause excessive saliva.

Excess saliva is frequently a symptom of acid reflux– saliva is basic and it’s the body’s mechanism to neutralize the upward acidic reflux– to coat the esophagus from acid damage.

To test whether it is acid reflux, try taking a off-the-counter proton inhibitor, such as Prilosec, for two weeks, and see what happens. During this time, also test for other acid reflux symptoms (search web–many of these). If such symptoms and excessive saliva stop, chances are excellent the problem is acid reflux.

If it is acid reflux, proton inhibitors are a relatively safe drug– patients have taken it daily for over 10 years. Also, it is documented that for patients with acid reflux, proton inhibitors can help them sing significantly better (because of reduced effects of acid reflux).   I am not a physician, obviously, so you should see a physician to confirm any self-tests.

Another question was raised are there other remedies than proton inhibitors. Yes there are; I will describe these one day much later.

There is still another solution to excessive saliva. The excessive saliva problem, as it relates to singing, is generally not one of production, but one of drainage. As long as the saliva drains out quickly, the mouth can move freely, without having to swallow to rid of saliva. Recognizing the singing issue as a fast drainage challenge, the answer is simple (yet difficult to continously implement)– straighten the head so that the saliva naturally flows down the esophagus faster. One doesn’t have to swallow if one’s head is properly allowing drainage such that the saliva doesn’t accumulte.

This drainage solution has its challenges. How does one align one’s head straight such that it doesn’t cause strains on throat and mouth muscles, the strain of which will impact singing?

This is what attempts to answer–how to create a relaxed posture that enhances singing–and at the same time solve the excess saliva issue.

10-15-12  I’ve straightened my head posture significantly, and saliva drainage definitely is much better (faster).

Chen Sun

Posture and many illnesses are related

May 16, 2009

We will discuss later posture and its influence on illnesses as acid reflux and prostatitis, and we’ll also discuss how posture’s related behavioural disorder–compulsion–can exacerbate depression, over-eating, sadness.  Compulsion is very related to singing, as possibly the primary reason singers are unable to improve rapidly is because of their body’s compulsions.   Changing singing and changing posture are difficult without solving compulsion.