Do you ever feel like you have a lump or an object stuck in your throat? This is often referred to as the globus sensation and is very common. It may be that when your throat is examined there is actually nothing there but you may still be able to feel something and this can be annoying. The first known cases of the globus sensation date back more than 2,000 years. So what are the causes and what can you do about it if it happens to you?
What is the globus sensation?
It’s thought that this accounts for around 4% of all referrals that are made to ear, nose and throat specialists. It is simply the sensation of having a lump in the throat that just doesn’t go away. It has been attributed to pressure on the thyroid cartilage as a result of contraction of the strap muscles of the neck but there could be other reasons for it. For example between a third and two thirds of the people who report getting globus sensation attribute it to acid reflux. Stress and anxiety may also trigger this and the impact of a traumatic life event could be responsible too. Globus sensation could also be the result of:
- A rare tumour in the throat
- Thyroid abnormalities
- The aftermath of having an actual object in your throat that has now been removed
- Abnormal upper oesophageal sphincter function where the airflow through the windpipe is not operating normally as a result of issues with the flap that controls it
- Pharyngeal inflammatory conditions, including tonsillitis and chronic sinusitis
The globus sensation has also been associated with some joint and muscle problems, including laryngeal and pharyngeal tension and not being able to produce enough saliva.
How can you treat a lump in the throat?
It can be quite difficult to treat globus sensation, as there may be so many different causes. If you have recently had an object lodged in your throat and you’re now suffering from globus sensation then it’s important to get this checked out in case there is any residual damage. In other cases you may find that the lump in your throat sensation clears up on its own and you don’t need to do anything about it. If you’re finding it very uncomfortable then seeing an ear, nose and throat specialist could be a logical next step. Once the cause of the globus sensation has been established various different treatment options may be available, depending on the reasons why it is happening. That could include treating acid reflux, for example, or it could involve looking into the causes of any underlying stress and anxiety and tackling this via something like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
As a result of the very wide range of triggers for globus sensation it’s a condition that can require some careful handling. There are many different ways to treat it and a specialist should be able to help you find the right one for you.