Have you ever felt like you had a lump in your throat? This condition is known as globus sensation, or globus pharyngeus, and it's more common than you might think. In fact, according to an article in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP), it has been reported to occur in as much as 45% of the general population. Here's what to know about this condition, including if it requires medical treatment.
Causes of a Lump in the Throat
The exact cause of globus sensation is unknown. However, as the BJGP article outlines, there are many suspected causes, including:
- Stress or anxiety (during times of emotional stress, affected patients may report a 96% increase in symptoms)
- Post-nasal drip
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux
- Muscle spasm in the throat
Women under the age of 50 experience globus sensation three times more frequently than men in the same age group, as a case report in Frontline Gastroenterology explains. However, for people above age 50, there is equal distribution among men and women.
Common symptoms of globus sensation as stated in the Frontline Gastroenterology report include:
- 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. The sensation may go away with eating.
It's important for those experiencing these symptoms to seek evaluation from a physician to rule out more serious problems, such as abnormal growths or cancers. Some of the more concerning symptoms to watch out for include 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 a greater risk of developing abnormal growths, as the Frontline Gastroenterology report explains. Make sure that you see a qualified professional for evaluation if you experience any of these symptoms.
The treatment of globus sensation must be tailored to the individual based on the suspected cause and related symptoms. A medical professional will have you complete a physical exam and describe your 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.
Globus sensation may be annoying, but rest assured, it is not life threatening and can be managed quite successfully with appropriate medical guidance.