Globus - a throat condition which can affect 40% of the population

March 2015

Globus or ‘globus sensation’ is a condition where a patient experiences the sensation of having a lump in the throat, without a lump or foreign body being present upon examination.

The sensation is typically painless although there may be some mild discomfort. While you may think this sensation would interfere with food consumption, people who suffer from the condition often say that eating and drinking helps ease the symptoms. Mr Peter Tassone, consultant ENT surgeon at Spire Norwich Hospital, tells us more.

"The main symptom is the sensation of a lump in the throat, this tends to come and go and is usually felt in the front of the neck around the area of the 'Adams Apple’. Some patients may experience symptoms of heartburn but this is not always the case.

"Globus is remarkably common, with up to 40% of adults experiencing it at one time. As the throat naturally relaxes when eating and drinking, one possible explanation is that as food stimulates the muscles in a different way, the sensation temporarily eases during this process. However, when patients are not eating and are swallowing saliva, the muscles may not relax fully, so the sensation of a lump in the throat re-occurs.

"Globus tends to affect women more than men. It can occur at any age, at any time with varying durations, but it is always important for patients experiencing this sensation to seek advice from their GP. The fluctuating nature of the symptoms and ability to swallow without any problems are reassuring features of the condition, however if swallowing becomes very difficult or you experience weight loss, vomiting or throat pain with simultaneous pain in either ear you should seek urgent advice from your GP to rule out anything more serious.

"In many cases, stress can be a trigger or make the symptoms worse so typically once globus has been diagnosed, the symptoms can ease as the patient is reassured there is nothing sinister causing the condition.

"Once globus has been determined, your GP is likely to refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) consultant who will examine your mouth, nose and throat more carefully with the use of a flexible telescope via the nose or a mirror at the back of the throat.

"Either procedure is very straight forward, has minimal discomfort and only takes a few minutes at most. Both techniques provide a really clear picture of your lower throat excluding any obvious swellings, inflammation or infection. Your neck will also be examined to exclude any lumps or glands.

"If stress is a factor, we can put you in touch with people who could help you tackle your stress through counselling and possibly medication. If, from the history or examination, there are symptoms or signs of acid reflux irritation, simple measures including an extra pillow at night, avoiding laying down straight after eating a large meal and/or a short course of reflux medication may help.

"In some cases, patients produce too much mucus, which drips down the back of the throat. This can make the sensation worse and there are treatments available to help with this too. A speech and language therapist could also help as they will be able to provide suitable neck exercises and relaxation techniques to ease the symptoms."

Mr Tassone concludes: "You can see there is help available, so I would encourage anyone experiencing these symptoms not to suffer in silence but to seek advice from their GP."

For further information or to make a private appointment with Mr Peter Tassone please contact one of the team on 01603 255 614 or complete the enquiry form on the right hand side of this page.

All surgery carries an element of risk and the content of this page is provided for general information only. It should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.

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