What is globus pharyngeus?
Globus pharyngeus (Globus pharyngis, "lump in the throat sensation") is the persistent feeling that there is an obstruction or mucus / phlegm / food caught in the neck, throat, oesophagus or upper chest area when swallowing. The lump feels like it is between the chest and the larynx, around the Adam's apple area. The size of the lump is described as being between that of a peanut up to the size of a walnut.
Dysphagia is a physical blockage between the throat and stomach, or medical reason that it is not possible to swallow properly. However, with globus pharyngeus it is possible to swallow normally, it just feels uncomfortable.
If you can actually see or feel a lump in the throat or neck, then this is probably not globus pharyngeus. In this case it is important that you investigate other possible causes.
Globus pharyngeus is an unpleasant but usually minor complaint that heals over time.
Symptoms of globus pharyngeus
- Lump in throat feeling. This is not the same as a sore throat.
- Phlegm / mucus at base of throat sensation.
- Lumpy sensation can force you to swallow several times when once should do.
- Chest pain when swallowing.
- Clicking sensation when swallowing.
Causes of globus pharyngeus
- Acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux).
- Inflammation of one or more parts of the throat, such as the larynx or hypopharynx. The inflammation can be caused by persistent post-nasal drip or rhinitis, and/or an infection.
- Trauma - a blow to the throat, or a small fishbone or particle stuck in the throat.
- Anxiety, stress, depression.
- Dishwashers and other sources of toxic gas. Dishwashers give off toxic gasses such as ammonia, chlorine and complex enzyme-based compounds. Dishwasher powders come with instructions that say "harmful if swallowed" and "burns skin and throat". Do you regularly spend time in a kitchen next to a running dishwasher, or you live in an open-plan area that contains a dishwasher? Do you notice that your globus pharyngeus symptoms improve when you are away from home? It can take weeks or more away from the dishwasher fumes before your symptoms improve. If you are not able to take a months holiday, try opening the windows wide when you use your dishwasher, only running it when you are out of the kitchen, venting your kitchen, or simply not using it for a period.
Triggers for globus pharyngeus
- Certain foods tend to get stuck in the throat rather than sliding down easily. Raw carrot, chicken or turkey breast, and tinned / canned tuna in springwater or brine are examples. They are dry and abrasive foods, rather than being moist or oily. Eating with a sip of water, adding a little oil, or combining the food with other easy-to-swallow foods helps.
- Eating large mouthfuls of food rather than small mouthfuls.
- Not chewing enough, eating too fast. Plenty of saliva helps when swallowing.