That Lump-in-Throat Feeling: Is It Globus Sensation or Something Else?

Ever feel like there is something lodged in your throat — even though you know there isn’t? Not only is it uncomfortable, but it can also be a little scary. However, it’s relatively common, and it’s probably a case of globus sensation, or globus pharyngeus.

What Is Globus Sensation?

Also called globus pharyngeus, globus sensation is the feeling of being unable to remove a lump from your throat, or the sensation that there’s a pill stuck there. Unlike some other throat issues, there’s no actual obstruction with globus pharyngeus.

Although globus sensation isn’t painful, it can be annoying — and disconcerting.

What Causes Globus Sensation?

Once upon a time, this condition was called globus hystericus, because doctors as far back as Hippocrates thought that people who experienced it were “hysterical.”

Doctors now understand more about the causes of globus sensation, which can be both psychological and physical, and that the symptoms are very real.

The most common causes of globus pharyngeus are anxiety and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a form of acid reflux that causes the stomach’s contents to travel back up the food pipe and sometimes into the throat.

This can result in muscle spasms that trigger feelings of an object caught in the throat.

Other causes include:

  • Minor inflammation in the throat or at the back of the mouth

  • Psychological health issues or mood changes

  • Swallowing disorders

Should I See a Doctor for Globus Pharyngeus?

Globus sensation usually disappears on its own over time, but you should seek medical advice if the condition is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the throat or neck

  • Weight loss

  • Vomiting

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Pain during swallowing

  • Choking when swallowing

  • Muscle weakness in the throat or elsewhere in the body

  • A mass that can be seen or felt in or around the neck or throat

It’s also time to call the doctor if your symptoms get progressively worse, or you’re over the age of 50, if you have a history of smoking or frequent alcohol use and symptoms come on suddenly.

Treatment for Globus Sensation

There’s no specific treatment for globus pharyngeus, but it’s controllable. Our experts recommend changes to medications that may cause dry mouth or changes in lifestyle to reduce anxiety.

When globus sensation is the result of another medical condition, treating that condition will also alleviate globus pharyngeus. For example, antacids may help with globus sensation related to GERD.

What Else Could Be Growing in Your Throat?

The short answer? It could be a lot of things, including normal bacteria. But if you know your body and you know something isn’t right — and it’s not just that lump-in-throat sensation — then let us help you troubleshoot.

Could It Be Strep or Mono?

Does it hurt to swallow? Have you had a sore throat for a few days? Is your throat red, or do you have white spots on your tonsils? Then you may have strep throat or mononucleosis (mono).

Strep Throat

Strep is a bacterial infection of the throat, usually when streptococcus bacteria grow on your tonsils.

In addition to moderate to severe sore throat and pain with swallowing (odynophagia), you may have swollen lymph nodes and a fever. Your tonsils may have a white spotty appearance, or they could be red and swollen.

You can catch strep by sharing saliva, utensils, or drinking glasses. If you’re worried you have it, head to GoHealth Urgent Care for a rapid test.

The results are available in less than 10 minutes, and the doctor can prescribe penicillin or other antibiotics for treatment.

Mononucleosis

Caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and caught from someone else who has it, mono can look and feel very much like strep throat.

Your tonsils can be red or swollen, or they can have a whitish appearance.

At GoHealth Urgent Care, we can run a rapid test for mono. Because it’s caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t treat it.

But it’s important to know if you have mono because there are other health risks associated with it.

Could It Be an STD?

Yes, STDs do occur in the throat — most commonly gonorrhea.

Symptoms of gonorrhea can include severe sore throat; red, swollen tonsils; and sores of the mouth.

Another possibility is a herpes infection of the mouth and throat.

At GoHealth Urgent Care, we can test for both and prescribe the appropriate antibiotics if needed. If you suspect one of these is the cause of your sore throat, you should limit your sexual activity until you see a doctor.

Could It Be Cancer?

Unfortunately, yes.

However, cancer of the mouth and throat typically occurs in those who have risk factors such as use of tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, or chewing tobacco), heavy alcohol use, or a history of radiation exposure.

In some cases, however, you can get cancer without risk factors.

It’s important to seek medical attention if you have a sore in your mouth that won’t heal; a sensation of something stuck in your throat; or fevers, night sweats, or weight loss.

A GoHealth Urgent Care provider can evaluate you and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist through our connected system. 

Could It Be Something Else?

It sure could! If you don’t know what’s ailing you, then let the experts at GoHealth Urgent Care help with your diagnosis.

We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year, and you can walk in or save your spot online.

See our prices on co-pays and same-day visits, with and without insurance.

GoHealth Urgent Care partners with these regional healthcare providers:

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