Globus sensation is a condition wherein an affected individual will sense the presence of a foreign object or a lump in his/her throat, despite the absence of any such matter in the throat. Persons with globus sensation may experience problems in swallowing. It is important for patients to seek medical attention if the issue persists.
Globus sensation or the feeling of ‘lumpy throat’ is also medically known as Globus Pharyngis or just Globus. The condition can be caused due to many different causes. It also comes with a long medical history. However, patients need not be overly worried as the disorder can be easily cured.
Symptoms of globus sensation
Globus sensation was formerly referred to as ‘globus hystericus,’ which linked the condition to being caused by stress and other such psychosomatic factors. However, following research has effectively proved that it is not so. The lumpy feeling is typically felt under the voice box.
Some of the common signs and symptoms accompanying globus sensation are listed below:
- A persistent sensation of some kind of blockage in the throat, even when there is no such actual obstruction
- Swallowing may be accompanied with severe pain and a clicking sensation
- Problems of voice such as huskiness or hoarseness
- It tends to hurt during swallowing
- Constant tightness and discomfort in the throat
- Minor pain in chest
- The feeling of lumpy throat gets aggravated under stressful situations
- The lumpy feeling may arise and dissipate periodically. It may migrate from one side to another, or move downwards or upwards.
- Some patients may easily swallow food; however they feel discomfort when swallowing saliva
It may be noted that all the above mentioned symptoms may be experienced by different patients in varying levels of intensity.
Causes of globus sensation
There are several possible causes of globus sensation. It is generally caused due to elevated tension of the throat muscles. Another major cause points to spasms of the cricopharyngeus muscle situated at the end of the throat.
Globus sensation can also arise due to some inflammation or swelling in the larynx or hypopharynx. It has been argued that the presence of this condition often results in non-detection of cancer growths in the throat. Globus sensation also causes a lot of unnecessary stress and worry in affected people as its symptoms are quite similar to that of throat cancer.It is however important to remember that a malignant tumor makes itself detectible as a noticeable bump. This lump is what causes swallowing difficulties. In a majority of cases, throat cancer is not that easily detected in the initial stages. Hence, it is best to consult a doctor whenever you experience any lumpy sensations in the throat.
Some of the major causes of globus sensation are discussed below:
- Laryngopharyngeal or gastroesophageal reflux: Gastroesophageal reflux is a condition characterized by anomalous flow of liquids in the body. The condition causes mucosal damage which arises because of fluids reflux from the stomach via the esophagus to the throat, thereby causing inflammation as well as a clogging sensation in the throat.A similar situation can arise due to laryngopharyngeal reflux which is characterized by the passage of digestive liquids into the upper section of the digestive system/tract. One of the most commonly associated symptoms of acid reflux is heartburn.
- Pharyngitis:It is a type of throat infection caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal pathogens. Patients with pharyngitis will experience the lumpy feeling in throat along with cough, throat pain, and fever.
- Cricopharyngeal spasm: Globus sensation can be triggered due to issues in the cricopharyngeus muscle. This muscle performs the function of a valve and prevents the reverse passage of consumed food from the esophagus. Globus sensation arises due to spasms of this muscle which prevents it from normally relaxing and contracting. It is a harmless condition, but can cause intense discomfort. Doctors are not aware of the exact causes of this disorder.
- Tongue diseases: Globus sensation can also be caused due to certain tongue diseases like glossitis or tongue inflammation, and oral thrush or infection by candida albicans fungus.
- Laryngitis:It is characterized by inflammation or swelling of the larynx which can arise due to viral, bacterial, or fungal infections; excess stress on the vocal chords; corticosteroids inhalation; or allergies.
Treatment of globus sensation
Treatment of globus sensation is dependent on the cause. Hence, it is vital for all individuals to consult a doctor whenever they experience a lumpy sensation in the throat. Doctors will diagnose the cause and then offer relevant treatment.
- Cricopharyngeal spasm cannot be cured fully. However, the severity of discomfort can be decreased with muscle relaxants. Patients also need to avoid stress and consume warm liquids. The condition typically disappears on its own after some time.
- Acid reflux is generally treated with a variety of medications including antacids, lifestyle changes, and diet control and modification.
- All tongue diseases need to be checked by a doctor before medications can be prescribed.
- Doctors will prescribe antibiotics, analgesics, and steroids to treat pharyngitis.
- Laryngitis is treated with antibiotics, along with rest for the vocal chords, adequate intake of fluids, and other medications as prescribed by a doctor.