Acid rain from the stomach

Reaching for antacids a lot lately? Your stomach may not be the only thing that needs to be checked out. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can significantly impact your voice. GERD is increasingly named as a culprit in voice disorders. One study found GERD to be a problem in more than three-quarters (78%) of patients with hoarseness and half of all patients with voice complaints. The problem arises when stomach acids travel back up through the esophagus and then irritate the tissue in the back of the throat and larynx. GERD also can indirectly cause voice problems: GERD sufferers sometimes cough or clear the throat frequently, which may harm tissues of the larynx. Others with GERD tend to use excess muscle tension when they speak (in response to the altered feeling in the larynx).

What are GERD's symptoms? Many people associate GERD with heartburn. In reality, however, only about half of all GERD sufferers have heartburn symptoms.

So, what are GERD's symptoms?

  • voice hoarseness;
  • sour breath (especially upon awakening);
  • frequent throat clearing;
  • excessive phlegm or saliva, especially in the back of the throat;
  • difficulty swallowing food, liquids or pills, and/or a feeling of a lump in the throat;
  • coughing after eating or lying down;
  • breathing difficulties (such as asthma-like wheezing) or choking episodes;
  • dry cough;
  • indigestion.

Gain control of GERD: There are three basic approaches to tackling GERD: diet and lifestyle changes; medication; or surgery.

Self-management tips:

  • Don't eat or drink anything but water within three hours of bedtime;
  • Don't overeat;
  • Don't recline after meals;
  • Eat a low-fat diet;
  • Avoid fried foods, coffee, tea, chocolate, mints and soda;
  • Elevate the head of your bed 4-6 inches or sleep o
  • on a wedge-shaped pillow;
  • Don't wear tight-fitting clothes or belts;
  • Stop smoking