Have you ever felt as if you had a lump in your throat? Maybe you are experiencing it now. This is a condition known as globus pharyngeus. It is sometimes described as a ball stuck in the throat or a scratchy type of swelling.
You might be surprised to learn that it is quite common. About four in 100 people report experiencing a lump in their throat. Women under the age of 50 experience the globus sensation three times more than men of the same age.
There is a muscle in the neck that makes a sling around the esophagus — which is the tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach. This muscle acts like a sphincter to prevent food from traveling back up from the stomach into the esophagus. When this muscle becomes too tight, it causes the lump in the throat feeling.
For many people with globus pharyngeus, just having their symptoms explained may be all that is needed. Often, the problem goes away in time on its own. There are several reasons why this feeling occurs, and not all of them will require you to seek medical treatment.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a form of acid reflux that allows the contents of the stomach to travel back up the esophagus. The inflammation from the acid reflux could cause globus pharyngeus. Research indicates that an average of 40 percent of all people with globus sensation may attribute it toacid refluxor the symptoms of GERD.
- Increased stress can also cause the muscle to constrict more tightly, like the lump that forms when you are trying to hold back tears. Research finds psychological distress, such as stress, depression, and health anxiety is associated with higher rates of globus sensation, as are traumatic life events, such as divorce.
- A mucosal lesion can also cause this globus sensation. These lesions can occur after a trauma to the throat, such as swallowing something with a sharp edge.
- Thyroid disease is another, but less common, reason. This can occur in people who have either an active thyroid abnormality or are post-thyroidectomy, which is when the thyroid has been fully or partially removed.
- Finally, a rare mass of some sort can also cause you to feel a lump in your throat. In this scenario, a lump is really a tumor. Such masses may include cancer or cysts.
When to See a Doctor
As we stated earlier, some people with globus sensation may never need to see a doctor, as the condition is likely to clear up on its own in a matter of hours or days.
However, if you are experiencing a chronic globus sensation, you should speak with a healthcare professional at American Family Care (AFC) to help identify the cause.Our highly skilled medical staff will be able to treat the underlying cause and prevent further episodes of globus sensation. If it is something more serious, we will also make sure you are referred to the right type of specialist.
At AFC, you can walkin during our extended business hours (even on weekends) and be seen by one of our medical professionals without a long wait. You also have the option to schedule an appointment. All of our clinics are designed, equipped, and staffed to provide accessible primary care, urgent care, minor emergency treatment, and occupational medicine.
If you are concerned about a lump in your throat; or have any other type of medical concern, visit afcurgentcare.com to find an AFC location nearest you.