Hi again, Paolo --
My reflux symptoms first began significantly impacting my voice in 2008, although it probably began a year or two before that point. I saw my first doctor, an ENT, in November of that year, when I completely lost my ability to sing. As a result of that visit, he prescribed Zantac. After about nine months, I was able to sing without limitation again.
I didn't understand what reflux was, really, and thought erroneously that I was "done" with it. The ENT certainly didn't explain anything to me. Obviously, when I stopped taking the prescription, the symptoms returned. But what had happened was that I had developed a tolerance for H2 blockers, which is a common occurrence with long-term use. So, they were no longer effective.
From January of 2010 through October, I tried just about every homeopathic remedy I could find, as well as adjustments to my diet, sleeping on an incline, etc. My symptoms progressed, and quickly became worse than before. Between October and May of 2011, I tried most of the available PPIs, but they all caused massive headaches and heart arrythmia. They worked, I just couldn't tolerate them.
During this time I was also going from doctor to doctor, and had several exploratory tests. During one of the endoscopies, I was told that I had a 2.5cm hernia. The next endoscopy, six months later, found no evidence of that. It was then that I was told about the inflation problem, which makes a sliding hernia appear worse than it is. A small to moderate hiatal hernia probably does not "cause" reflux. There are those with hernias who don't have reflux, as well as those without hernias who do. I don't know when my hernia first appeared, nor can I feel it.
I had the TIF surgery in August of 2011. I was symptom-free for about four weeks following the procedure, because the surgical site was swollen and tight. The symptoms reappeared after that.
While the TIF was successful in reducing my reflux into what's considered a "normal" range, I am still experiencing airway/LPR symptoms. I am completely out of medical options at this point.
I did not give up singing "easily". I can't tell you how difficult this has been, how many times I have cried, or wished my life would just end. I had just purchased thousands of dollars of equipment, taught myself how to run complicated recording software, and was working on my first CD. A more cruel twist of fate is impossible.
I remember clearly the last time I tried to sing in front of others. I couldn't make it through a single, simple religious solo as written, and had to quickly think through all the notes ahead and shift my voice an octave lower. I was afraid that this might happen, and had said a prayer for myself ahead of time, asking God to give me my voice one more time, like he gave Samson his strength. As you can imagine, I was absolutely crushed.
As awful as all this sounds, please do not take this as a "sentence of doom" for you. As I said before, chances are very good that you can find relief, and return to singing. My story is different, because of my sensitivity to medication.