Suddenly feeling that you have a lump in your throat that will not go away can be a frightening situation. This feeling is medically known as globus sensation, and sometimes can be an indication of an actual medical problem. Other times it can simply indicate that you are stressed or facing a lot of anxiety. The following are a few causes for globus sensation and a few treatment options that may help relieve the uncomfortable feeling.
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a common disease that suffers as much as 20% of the population. Acid reflux causes inflammation in the throat which in turn makes the throat more sensitive. Research suggests that as many as 23% to 68% of people that suffer from globus sensation also suffer from GERD or an increase in their general acid reflux symptoms. If you suffer from GERD and constantly feel like you have a lump in your throat, it may be a sign that your GERD is not properly managed.
Sometimes psychological conditions can cause globus sensation because people tend to become super aware of every aspect of their body. Stress and anxiety have both been linked to globus sensation as have some cases of depression. Many people find themselves hyperaware of everything while suffering from anxiety or an extreme amount of sense, and they notice everything, including any slight irritation in the throat that may replicate the feeling of a lump in the throat. Studies have also linked traumatic life events to the appearance of globus sensation.
This is a rare disorder, but for some people, abnormal upper esophageal sphincter can cause globus sensation. This is present when the flap that is responsible for controlling airflow in the windpipe does not function correctly. If UES is the cause of globus sensation, the good news is that it can be treated with injections that will keep the flap functioning correctly. In turn, this will reduce the globus sensation or take it away completely.
It is not common that tumors will cause globus sensation, but in some rare cases, the feeling of a lump in the throat can actually be caused by a tumor that is growing in the throat. One type of cancer that has been linked to the globus sensation is Merkel cell carcinoma. This is one reason why a lump in the throat should not be ignored, but it is not a reason for panic since tumors will not be the cause in a large percentage of cases.
Many people that report globus sensation actually have problems with their thyroid. There are many different types of thyroid disease, but globus sensation is most likely to occur in people that have an abnormality that is already causing them other issues or post-thyroidectomy. It is not clear why thyroid disease causes symptoms of globus sensation, but removing the thyroid appears to help the symptoms go away for most people. Other thyroid diseases can also cause similar problems, although they may come or go depending on how well the thyroid disease is being managed.
A pharyngeal inflammatory condition is a medical term that simply means conditions that can cause the pharynx to become inflamed. Several everyday conditions can cause you to feel like you have a lump in your throat. These include tonsillitis, chronic sinusitis with postnasal drip, and pharyngitis. Because these conditions make the throat more sensitive, you may end up with the globus sensation.
Not everyone that is diagnosed with globus sensation requires treatments. For most people, the knowledge that a serious disease like cancer does not cause the lump in their throat is enough since it is not life-altering. For other people, treatment of the direct cause will usually reduce the symptoms of globus sensation. Therefore, globus sensation itself does not have a specific treatment. The following are a couple of things that your doctor may have you try if globus sensation is overwhelming you.
Sometimes strengthening the muscles in the throat will help the feeling of a lump go away. In this case, you may be referred to a speech and language therapist. They can perform physiotherapy that is directed at the muscles in the throat. Treatment time will depend on how well you respond to the therapy and whether or not weak muscles were the original cause of the globus sensation. A speech therapist could offer a better outlook on the entire treatment time on an individual basis.
Some of the most common causes of globus sensation are GERD and postnasal drip. Therefore, it is only logical that an ENT may try to treat both of these first to see if there are any results if you come to them with a complaint of globus sensation. Treatment for GERD can include acid-suppressing medicines and antacid medicines. Postnasal drip, on the other hand, can be treated with certain allergy medications and nasal sprays.
If you and your doctor suspect that stress, anxiety, or depression may be behind your globus sensation, then they may recognize treating the psychological condition to remove the sensation in your throat. For some people, this may mean trying out an anti-depressant, while other people will respond better to cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is simply sitting down and talking with a therapist once or twice a month to help relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety.
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