Have you ever felt like you have a lump in your throat? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, according to an article in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP), it happens to as much as 45% of the population.
Globus pharyngeus is the medical name for the condition, although it’s often called globus sensation, as well. What is this common yet little understood condition? Let’s take a closer look.
The symptoms of globus sensation extend beyond the lump in the throat. A case report in BMJ Journals’ Frontline Gastroenterology lists them:
- The feeling of a ball-like sensation in the throat
- A scratchy sensation like that of a hair in the back of the throat
For up to 75% of patients, symptoms can persist for years and may be accompanied by constant clearing of the throat and coughing. Alternately, the sensation may go away by doing something as simple as eating.
It's important for those experiencing symptoms to seek evaluation from a physician to rule out more serious problems, like abnormal growths or cancers. Watch out for more serious symptoms including difficulty in swallowing, pain upon swallowing, pain in the throat, weight loss, and hoarseness.
Traditionally, patients over the age of 40 who have a history of smoking and alcohol consumption are at greater risk of developing abnormal growths, according to the Frontline Gastroenterology report. Make sure that you see a qualified professional for evaluation if you experience any of these symptoms, especially if you have a history of smoking and alcohol consumption.
The exact cause of globus sensation is little known, despite its frequent occurrence. However, as the BJGP article explains, there are several suspected causes, including:
- Stress or anxiety (during times of emotional stress, affected patients may report a 96% increase in symptoms)
- Post-nasal drip
- Gastro-esophageal reflux
- Muscle spasm in the throat
Additionally, women under the age of 50 experience globus sensation three times more frequently than men in the same age group, as the previously mentioned case report in Frontline Gastroenterology explains. However, for people above age 50, the distribution is equal among men and women.
Treating the Lump in Your Throat
Globus sensation treatment is tailored to the individual based on the suspected cause and related symptoms. It begins with a physical exam from a medical professional, based on your described symptom history. Treatments may be provided by general practitioners, speech and language therapists, or other appropriate medical personnel. As the BJGP article outlines, a few common treatment options are:
- Vocal hygiene. This would include such measures as drinking more water, limiting your daily intake of coffee, and avoiding inhaling smoke.
- Medications. If associated with gastric reflux, symptoms can often be minimized with appropriate antacids.
- Voice therapy. A speech and language therapist may help patients improve their symptoms.
- Exercises. The Frontline Gastroenterology report explains that speech therapy exercises may help relieve tension in the throat.
Staying on top of globus sensation means monitoring the basic symptoms and keeping watch for the more serious indicators. As always, if you have concerns, contact your doctor for assessment and possible treatment.
Globus sensation may be irritating but rest assured, it's not life threatening and can be successfully managed with the appropriate medical guidance.