Globus pharyngeus: What are the causes?

Globus pharyngeus, also known as “globus sensation” or “globus,” is a sensation of something being lodged in one’s throat. Globus can be a sign of a variety of illnesses.

Healthcare practitioners used to think of globus as mostly a psychological condition, according to a 2017 report in the journal Frontline Gastroenterology. However, studies have shown that it can be a sign of both psychological and physical problems.

Although globus is not painful, it can be inconvenient and have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life.

This page explains what a globus sensation is, how to treat it, and what produces it. The article also discusses what else could be generating the sensation and when to seek medical help.

What exactly is the globus sensation?

globus sensation

Despite the absence of a physical blockage, Globus can make a person feel as if they have a chronic lump in their throat.

People may describe the sensation as something constricting their throat, according to the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom.

It is, however, exceedingly common and is not a reason for concern.

Globus can also cause a person to have the following symptoms:

  • itches in their throat.
  • The swelling of the throat
  • Persistence clearing of the throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Chronic cough
  • Catarrh, which is a build-up of mucus in the nose, throat, or sinuses,

During times of stress, the symptoms may worsen.

Causes

The actual cause of globus is unknown at this time.

It can, however, happen as a result of stress and anxiety, especially when people are suppressing intense emotions.

According to a 2015 article, up to 96 percent of people with globus noticed that symptoms exacerbated during periods of high emotional intensity.

In addition, gastroesophageal reflux disease is a common reason (GERD). According to the authors of the article, 23–68% of people with globus also have GERD. The globus sensation might be caused by GERD symptoms such as heartburn.

Other medical problems that might produce globus include the following:

  • cricopharyngeal spasm, which is a type of muscle spasm that happens in the throat
  • hiatus hernia, which is when a part of the stomach moves up into the chest
  • sinusitis, which is inflammation of the sinuses
  • post-nasal drip, which occurs when the glands in the throat and nose continually produce mucus
  • a swollen thyroid gland, or goiter

Hypopharyngeal cancer may be the cause in extremely uncommon situations.

Similar and related conditions

There are a number of illnesses that are comparable to globus. These are some of the conditions:

Dysphagia

The term “dysphagia” refers to difficulty swallowing. This could indicate that a person is completely unable to swallow, or that they are having difficulty safely ingesting food or drink.

Dysphagia can cause the following symptoms:

  • coughing
  • choking
  • clearing the throat
  • the sensation that food is stuck in the throat or chest
  • weight loss
  • preference for liquid and semisolid food

Odynophagia

Odynophagia is a condition in which a person has pain during swallowing.

Odynophagia is a condition that happens when the esophagus or oropharynx, which is the region of the throat directly behind the mouth, becomes infected or inflamed.

Achalasia

Achalasia is a rare condition in which a person has trouble swallowing. Achalasia is a condition in which a person’s esophagus has difficulty transporting food into their stomach. This means that food can get stuck in the esophagus, resulting in:

  • dysphagia
  • mild chest pain
  • intense pain
  • regurgitation
  • coughing during the night
  • significant weight loss

How common is globus pharyngeus?

Globus is a prevalent medical complaint that accounts for about 4% of new referrals to ear, nose, and throat clinics, according to Trusted Source.

According to research from 2017, 12.5 percent of otherwise healthy people in the United States have globus. Furthermore, among those under the age of 50, globus appears to affect females more frequently than males. It affects both men and women over the age of 50, according to the authors.

According to researchers, up to 75% of people with globus may endure symptoms for years. It’s possible that this is due to the difficulty in diagnosing globus. It can be difficult for a doctor to discover a suitable treatment if the reason of a person’s globus cannot be determined.

When should you see a doctor?

The sensation of a big lump in the throat might be terrifying. Globus, on the other hand, is not a significant condition with no long-term health repercussions.

A person who is concerned about globus can benefit from speaking with a medical practitioner.

If you have globus and the following symptoms, you should see a doctor very away.

  • neck or throat pain
  • bleeding from the mouth or throat
  • weight loss
  • pain or difficulty swallowing
  • muscle weakness
  • a physical mass in the throat or mouth
  • a progressive worsening of symptoms

Treatment

There are no particular therapies for globus because there is no identified cause. When globus is caused by another medical condition, addressing that condition may help to cure it.

To help ease the discomfort and relax the throat muscles, the NHS recommends that you do the following:

  1. Swallow when the throat feels uncomfortable, with or without water.
  2. Yawn with the mouth wide open often.
  3. Move the jaw up and down and open the mouth at least two fingers wide.

A person can also try the following steps a few times a day:

  1. Sitting or standing, a person should shrug the shoulders up to the ears, hold the position, release, and repeat.
  2. Turn the head to the left, slowly and gently. Bring the head to the center and lower the chin to the chest. Raise the head, turn it to the right, and then bring it back to the center. A person can repeat this four times.
  3. Drop the head to the chest, and keep the mouth open. Gently roll the head in a circle and repeat in the other direction.

People should also:

  • take antacids if they experience regular acid indigestion
  • avoid clearing the throat as this can aggravate it further, and drink some water instead
  • try to yawn if the desire to clear the throat is strong

A healthcare professional may recommend the following treatment options:

Proton pump inhibitors (PPI)

PPIs work by lowering a person’s stomach acid levels. PPIs are prescribed by a doctor to treat heartburn and acid reflux.

Those with globus, on the other hand, may require more vigorous and extended PPI medication, which can have undesirable side effects. In addition, 55.6 percent of people with GERD and globus were resistant to PPI treatment, according to researchers in a 2015 study.

Other acid blockers, such as H2 blockers, may be prescribed by a healthcare practitioner.

Speech therapy

According to research, globus can be efficiently treated with speech therapy that involves relaxation techniques.

According to a 2017 study, 72 percent of people with globus who had speech therapy experienced complete remission. However, because of the limited sample size in this study, more research is needed.

Psychological treatments

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy used to address psychological disorders that might manifest as physical symptoms.

Antidepressants may be helpful as well. Therapy with serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors can be an useful treatment option for patients with mild symptoms, according to a study published in 2021.

Conclusion

The sensation of having something trapped in one’s throat is known as globus. Despite the fact that it is usually not serious, it can cause concern and lower a person’s quality of life.

The actual reason for this is unknown. There are, however, some conditions that are linked to globus. If these disorders are the cause of globus, treatment may help.

There are a number of illnesses that are comparable to globus. It’s not like these conditions in that it doesn’t produce discomfort or make swallowing difficult.

A person should consult a doctor if they are concerned about globus. If you have globus and other significant symptoms, you should consult a doctor very away.

Sources:

  • https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/achalasia/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559174/
  • https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/dysphagia
  • https://www.hey.nhs.uk/patient-leaflet/globus-sensation/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318633
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6056082/
  • https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-44360-7_8
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4582871/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5137314/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6400352/
  • https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00405-020-06544-0

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