Globus sensation: the inside track on the phantom throat blockage

Globus sensation: the inside track on the phantom throat blockage

Do you ever feel like you have something stuck in your throat, but no matter what you do you can’t dislodge it? It’s possible there’s actually nothing there – and that you’re experiencing what’s known as globus sensation.

This phenomenon is very common – reportedly experienced by up to 45% of the population – and can range in its severity, causes and duration.

Here, we take a look at globus sensation in more detail.

What is globus sensation?

Also known as globus pharyngeus, the term globus sensation is used to describe a feeling of something being stuck in the throat. Many years ago, this was called globus hystericus, as it was previously considered to be a psychiatric condition, though it’s now known this isn’t the case.

It is generally painless, but can cause some discomfort and alarm, particularly when it first appears. Anyone can be affected, though it’s most common in middle-aged people, with women more likely to experience it.

What are the signs and symptoms of globus sensation?

The key sign of globus sensation is that you feel as though there is a lump or foreign object stuck in your throat.

Some people may also experience a tightening of the throat. It can be associated with other symptoms such as coughing, hoarseness and a build-up of mucus (catarrh).

What causes globus sensation?

The exact science behind the reaction that causes globus sensation is uncertain. However, there are certain triggers that can contribute to the issue presenting itself, including:

  • Muscle relaxation – not using the throat muscles for long periods of time, such as times when you don’t talk or eat much, can cause the muscles to relax
  • Voice strain – caused by long periods of talking, singing or shouting, which can increase the tension in throat muscles
  • Fatigue – can cause the relaxation of throat muscles
  • Post-nasal drip – an excess of mucus running from the nose down the back of the throat
  • Acid reflux – reflux may affect the relaxation of the throat muscles
  • Stress and anxiety – can lead to the worsening of globus symptoms due to an increase in muscle tension
  • Smoking – can contribute to a worsening of symptoms, and also increases levels of stomach acid which may bring on reflux
  • Pride – and other emotional responses which trigger a ‘lump in the throat’ feeling

What should you do if you feel as though your throat is blocked?

There’s usually no need to worry if you experience globus sensation. However, if you suddenly develop any form of discomfort or pain, you should seek help. If the discomfort is affecting your ability to swallow there may be an underlying condition and you may need to undergo an examination to understand if there’s a more serious issue.

For example, if you are struggling to swallow food effectively, it may be a sign of dysphagia.

Eating when you are experiencing globus sensation

If there’s no underlying condition causing the discomfort, you should be able to continue eating as normal. However, you may find it more comfortable to eat softer foods that are easier to swallow.

Our convenient Birds Eye soft meals, which come pre-pureed and shaped, are an ideal way to enjoy nutritious food which is a little easier to chew and swallow if you are experiencing discomfort.

How long does globus sensation last?

In most cases, the feeling of something in your throat will ease on its own without the need for further investigation. Some people will experience the sensation for just a few days, whereas others might have the feeling over a longer period.

What treatments are available?

As it generally goes on its own, there’s no direct treatment for globus sensation on its own. Rather, you may make lifestyle changes to control the contributing factors that cause the sensation.

For example, if you’re a smoker, you could try to stop smoking to avoid the excess stomach acid build-up. If you feel stressed or suffer with anxiety, you might seek advice and support to reduce the severity or frequency of these feelings. For physical impairments, you may require physiotherapy for the muscles around the throat.

To reiterate: if you feel your throat discomfort may be caused by an underlying condition or is causing breathing or swallowing problems, then seek medical advice in the first instance.