Why some people feel like something is stuck in their throat (even when there is no physical obstruction) is still unknown, but it seems to be due to several factors. Although there are many possible causes, in general, the globus sensation seems to be associated with some type of throat-related irritation.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition that occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth and stomach), may be the source of the nagging sensation in the throat. In fact, acid reflux may account for about half of globus pharyngeus cases.
There are two main theories about how acid can lead to ballooning. The first is that the acid directly irritates the pharynx, causing inflammation and the feeling that something is stuck in the throat. The second hypothesis is that when acidic juices flow from the stomach into the lower part of the esophagus, it triggers the vasovagal reflex to contract the upper esophageal sphincter, causing the feeling that something is stuck there.
To get rid of the globus sensation, we must first get the GERD under control. Medications such as histamine 2 blockers (including famotidine and ranitidine), proton pump inhibitors (such as omeprazole, esomprazole, and pantoprazole), and non-medicated alginate therapy (a natural substance derived from seaweed that floats on the surface of the contents of your stomach to form a physical barrier against reflux) may help treat or prevent GERD symptoms.
inflammatory throat disease
Certain health problems that affect the pharynx (throat) may play a role in globus sensation. For example, medical problems that cause irritation and inflammation of the throat, such as pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and chronic sinusitis with postnasal drip, can stimulate increased sensitivity in the throat region, causing pharyngeal globus.
It is recommended to consult a doctor so that he can properly diagnose and treat the possible disease in the throat. Once the underlying problem is under control, the globus sensation should subside.
People with certain types of thyroid disease may feel as if something is stuck in their throat, too. Thyroid abnormalities appear to be more common in people with globus sensation, with approximately one-third of people with a thyroid mass reporting globus-related symptoms.
Specifically, goiters, or an enlarged thyroid gland, can cause a globus sensation. Still, it’s worth noting that sometimes thyroid enlargements, like goiters, grow very slowly and don’t cause symptoms until they’re relatively large.
If we think we have thyroid problems, we will see an endocrinologist (a doctor who specializes in thyroid disorders) who can perform an evaluation.
anxiety and stress
Although the relationship remains unclear, there is evidence that some people with globus pharyngeus have a higher incidence of depression and life stressors. And many people with globus sensation (up to 96 percent) report worsening symptoms during times of significant stress.
The thing is, this can cause a damaging ripple effect. For example, a person can get caught up in a throat clearing pattern that can aggravate anxiety, leading to more throat clearing and irritation, which can lead to even more physical and psychological distress.
After ruling out more pressing medical issues, you may work with a speech-language pathologist to help deal with the sensation using methods such as biofeedback, a therapeutic technique that helps you control some of the body’s functions to help ease the sensation. anxiety.
Medications that decrease saliva production can also cause globus pharyngeus sensation. In fact, people who suffer from dry mouth (also known as xerostomia) seem to be at increased risk of globus pharyngeus. Reduced salivary flow (ie, salivary hypofunction) appears to be a contributing factor to globus sensation.
The problem is that a host of common over-the-counter and prescription medications can cause dry mouth, including antihistamines, antihypertensive medications, decongestants, pain relievers, diuretics, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants.
If we think a medication is causing that persistent lump in your throat, we’ll talk to a doctor, who may adjust the dosage or prescribe another medication to lessen the dry mouth and globus symptoms.
Sometimes it’s hard to swallow because we literally have a little bit of food lodged in our throat. People can get food stuck in their throats for a variety of reasons, including:
- Not chewing well. If not chewed well, things like bread or meat get stuck and, in severe cases, cannot be swallowed.
- Certain health problems. Some medical conditions can make swallowing difficult. These include scleroderma, eosinophilic esophagitis, tumors (more on this later), stroke, and diverticulum.
And when food gets stuck in your throat, it can be very uncomfortable and possibly dangerous. For example, when a food particle that is stuck in the upper part of the esophagus eventually breaks free, it can enter the trachea and cut off the air supply. Also, food that is trapped in the esophagus for a long time can lead to irritation, inflammation, and erosion of the lining of the esophagus.
Whether we have a morsel of food stuck in our throat or suspect a medical problem is preventing us from swallowing smoothly, we’ll see a doctor. An ENT doctor can safely remove the rogue piece of food and evaluate it for any underlying health issues that may be causing the food to get stuck.
Tumors of the tongue, larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), and esophagus (food pipe) can cause a physical blockage that causes difficulty swallowing. Neck tumors, such as thyroid masses, can also compress the esophagus, making it difficult to swallow.
Since the tumors cause a tangible obstruction in the throat, they are very different conditions than the globus pharyngeus, and much more serious.
If left untreated, a tumor can grow and possibly block the airways and ability to breathe. Again, it is recommended to visit a doctor immediately, so that an evaluation can be made and an appropriate treatment plan can be designed.
When to go to the doctor?
It is important to know that the globus sensation is not dangerous and does not cause additional complications. That means contacting a doctor is often unnecessary. However, this sensation can be confused with other conditions that do need a doctor’s attention.
We should call a doctor within a few days if we continue to experience the lump in our throat or if we develop other symptoms. For example, difficulty swallowing may be a sign of a larger problem and should be addressed immediately.
If we are unsure of the symptoms and want a diagnosis, we will make an appointment with a doctor. We may be referred to a otorhinolaryngologist or to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. This doctor will examine our mouth, nose, and throat. They will pass an ultra-thin, flexible telescope with a light through your nose to see inside your sinuses and throat.
This test may not confirm a diagnosis of globus pharyngeus sensation. What you can do is offer another explanation for the symptoms. For example, if acid reflux is suspected, additional tests may be done to confirm that diagnosis.
How to prevent?
Because researchers don’t know what causes globus sensation, it’s hard to understand how to prevent it. Because of this, the best course of action is to care for the throat as best we can. We will follow these healthy tips for the throat to avoid possible problems with the globus sensation or other causes of having a lump in the throat:
- drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is good for more than just your skin. It keeps fluids and secretions throughout the body moving properly.
- Give up smoking. The throat, paranasal sinuses and mouth are greatly affected if we use cigarettes and tobacco. Using any of these products increases the risk of many conditions, including cancer.
- Rest our voice when we are sick. When we have a cold or something more serious like laryngitis, we will rest the throat. The muscles inside the throat are already swollen and sore from the disease. Using them too much can cause irreversible damage.
- Improve lifestyle habits to prevent reflux. If the feeling of lump in the throat is caused by acid reflux, some lifestyle habits can help alleviate the sensation. Some examples are: waiting at least 3 hours to lie down after eating, limiting or avoiding trigger foods, such as spicy or high-fat foods.