To sleep better with globus sensation, you should keep your throat healthy by drinking plenty of fluids, eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals, quitting cigarettes, avoiding alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Maintaining good vocal hygiene, such as not shouting and resting throat when you are sick, will keep the symptoms of globus sensation at bay. But, if other health conditions such as acid reflux, thyroid diseases, throat problems, or worse, cancer are causing your globus sensation, strong medications and doctor’s intervention are needed.
Are you also suffering from having a lump in your throat that doesn’t seem to go away? And no matter how many times you clear your throat, your condition seems to worsen? Well, you must be experiencing a globus sensation!
Many years ago, doctors mistook patients who experienced a persistent lump in their throats as some effects of hysteria or a condition that’s just “all in your head.”
It was even named globus hystericus. That wasn’t until 1968 when doctors found out that the disease was linked to psychological and physical factors.
Table of Contents
- What is globus sensation?
- Things you can do to sleep better with globus sensation
- Medical conditions causing globus sensation
- 1. Laryngeal pharyngeal reflux (LPR) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- 2. Throat problems and pharyngeal inflammation
- 3. Upper esophageal sphincter (UES) dysfunction
- 4. Thyroid diseases
- 5. Objects stuck in the throat
- 6. Throat cancer
- 7. Stress and Anxiety
What is globus sensation?
Globus sensation, also known as globus pharyngeus, commonly affects men and women of no age. Patients who suffer from this usually feel like there’s something stuck in their throat, like a lump or a small-sized pill.
Usually, it doesn’t present or develop any chronic condition and will go away as time passes, but it can disrupt your quality of life and may even bother you in your sleep.
Remember that globus sensation is painless and won’t cause you difficulty swallowing. Otherwise, you could be experiencing some other complications in your throat.
You may also feel the following symptoms when you have a globus sensation:
- Itching and swelling in the throat
- The need to frequently clear the throat
- Hoarseness of voice
- Chronic cough
- Catarrh, or the buildup of mucus in your airways or in the back of your nose, throat, or sinuses
If you experience the following symptoms listed below along with your globus sensation, you must check with an ENT specialist immediately.
These could be signs of other throat disorders:
- Pain in neck and throat
- Difficulty swallowing or dysphagia
- A lump or physical mass felt or seen in the throat or mouth
- Fever and muscle weakness
- Weight loss
- Bleeding from the mouth or throat
- Worsening of symptoms
The severity of the symptoms may vary depending on the health issues contributing to your globus sensation.
Things you can do to sleep better with globus sensation
Globus sensation doesn’t present any specific health condition, making it difficult to provide immediate treatments. Even doctors don’t really know what causes such a condition.
If the lump in your throat doesn’t seem to go away after a couple of weeks, you must check with your primary healthcare provider to rule out if there’s a specific underlying cause to your globus sensation.
Although globus sensation isn’t a chronic disease, it may keep you up all night. By simply following the steps below on taking care of your throat, you may find relief from the symptoms and may even get better sleep.
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Stop smoking
- Rest your voice when sick and avoid shouting
- Practice good vocal hygiene
- Take medications as advised by your doctor
- Do some exercises for globus sensation, such as chewing and yawning exercises to relieve tension in your throat, jaw, and neck
- Muscle therapy and voice therapy with the supervision of an ENT or a speech therapist
Medical conditions causing globus sensation
Your doctor will perform diagnostic tests to examine if there’s an actual lump or some abnormalities in your throat. Getting a proper diagnosis will help you manage your condition as per the doctor’s prescription and advice.
Below are some possible health issues that may contribute to your globus sensation.
1. Laryngeal pharyngeal reflux (LPR) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Both are types of acid reflux diseases that could contribute to your globus sensation, but each may present varying symptoms.
Patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) most likely experience heartburn or chest pains due to the stomach acid that may have traveled back to their esophagus.
In contrast, patients with laryngeal pharyngeal reflux (LPR) may not feel like they’re experiencing acid reflux. Instead, they may have chronic cough and sore throat because the acid has traveled up into their throats.
Both acid reflux diseases are common causes of globus sensation among most patients. If your doctor diagnosed you with GERD or LPR, you might have to make a few changes in your lifestyle, such as;
Lose weight and limit your food intake
Extra weight in your abdominal area may put pressure on your stomach, causing its acid contents to move upward to your esophagus or throat. Losing weight and limiting food intake may prevent acid reflux from occurring.
Your doctor may also recommend avoiding food and drinks that trigger acid reflux. However, you should keep a food diary or list what kind of food lets you have acid reflux.
Below are common types of food and beverages that trigger acid reflux:
- Spicy foods
- Fried and fatty foods
- Acidic foods and beverages such as citrus fruits, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and sodas
- Tomatoes, onions, and garlic
Take note that smoking not only triggers and worsens acid reflux, but it may slowly damage your overall health in the long run. You should quit smoking to prevent irritation in your airways, leading to chronic cough and trigger acid reflux.
Take over-the-counter drugs
OTC medicines may provide relief for acid reflux symptoms. However, you should let your doctor know about the drugs you’re taking. They will give stronger prescriptions if there’s no improvement in your condition.
OTC medications for acid reflux include the following:
- Antacids will neutralize your stomach acids and relieve heartburn
- H2 receptor blockers to limit your production of stomach acids
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) also reduce your stomach acid production and may heal damages done by an acid reflux
More prevention tips
Symptoms of acid reflux diseases may become much more noticeable at night, where your globus sensation may give you some restless nights.
Below are some things you can do to prevent your stomach acids from interrupting your sleep:
- Sleep on your left side and keep your head elevated. Use a mattress lifter or a wedge-shaped pillow; piling more pillows may not be effective.
- Avoid eating large meals. Instead, eat smaller frequent meals throughout the day.
- Try a variety of food while avoiding food and drink triggers. Eat vegetables, oatmeal, and other less or non-acidic foods.
- Chew your food thoroughly. It will help your stomach digest your food faster.
- Wait and walk. Wait at least 3-4 hours before lying down to bed, and take a little walking session after your dinner.
- Stand and sit up straight. Maintaining good posture will prevent your stomach acids from moving upward to your esophagus.
- Wear loose clothing. Avoid tight and fit clothes that may put pressure on your stomach area. Always opt for loose and comfortable wear.
2. Throat problems and pharyngeal inflammation
Most throat problems that result from the irritation and inflammation of your vocal cords and pharynx would give you symptoms of having a persistent lump in your throat.
Some of these conditions include:
- Sore throat
- Strep throat
- Chronic sinusitis with postnasal drip
If a bacterial infection is causing your throat problem, your doctor will give you antibiotics to kill the bacteria in your throat and prevent chronic conditions from developing.
On the other hand, throat problems due to a viral infection mostly resolve over time and will only require home treatments such as the following:
- Avoid habits that will cause irritation and dryness of your throat. These include smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, constant clearing of your throat, and shouting.
- Get plenty of rest throughout the day. Avoid high-impact and voice-straining activities.
- Drink lots of fluids. Drink plenty of warm or lukewarm water while limiting your caffeine and alcohol intake.
- Eat soft foods, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These will provide essential vitamins and minerals to your throat. Eating puree and soups may also help.
- Use a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier. This helps in thinning out mucus buildup in your nasal passages or throat.
- Gargle warm saltwater solution. Use Neti pot or nasal sprays to flush clogged nose and relieve symptoms of postnasal drip.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers. You may also suck on lozenges to numb throat pain.
To avoid throat problems, you must maintain proper hygiene, such as frequent washing of hands, avoiding contact with people who have throat illnesses, and not sharing food, drink, utensils, and other personal care items with anybody.
3. Upper esophageal sphincter (UES) dysfunction
The upper esophageal sphincter (UES) is a bundle of muscles that contracts and relaxes to prevent the backflow of food from our stomach or from getting it into our airways.
It also allows our digestive system to expel harmful gases or materials in the form of burping, belching, and vomiting.
When these muscles fail to function well, severe complications such as GERD and dysphagia may occur. In such cases, you may feel symptoms like having a lump in your throat or a globus sensation.
Treatments for UES dysfunction include injection of botulinum (Botox) or a procedure called cricopharyngeus muscle myotomy.
4. Thyroid diseases
Thyroid diseases such as the swelling of your thyroid gland or goiter may affect your ability to swallow well. If you have a goiter, the muscles and other structures in your esophagus and upper airways may be compressed, causing you to feel like there’s food stuck in your throat or give you symptoms of choking.
If your doctor finds out you have a goiter, you may need thyroid surgery. Your thyroid gland may be partially or totally removed to relieve symptoms of dysphagia.
In cases of minor inflammation of the thyroid gland, you may only need some medications to reduce swelling and relieve swallowing difficulty.
5. Objects stuck in the throat
If you had food or an object previously stuck in your throat and you feel like it’s still there even after it was removed, you should seek medical attention immediately.
There can be a remaining small piece in your throat causing your globus sensation. If it isn’t removed, it may shift over time and block other passages in your throat.
6. Throat cancer
In very rare cases, a persistent lump in the throat or neck area along with a sore throat that lasts for a long time and other abnormalities in your throat could be symptoms of throat cancer.
Throat cancer may occur in the pharynx (pharyngeal cancer) or larynx (laryngeal cancer).
Treatments may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy after removing the cancerous cells. You may also receive medications to boost your immune system (immunotherapy) and destroy the fatal cancer cells.
7. Stress and Anxiety
Another common cause of globus sensation is psychological distress such as stress and anxiety.
Experts believe that holding back strong emotions such as depression, grief, and pride has been causing the globus sensation in most patients. Experiencing traumatic life events may also give you the symptoms or worsen them.
You should talk to a therapist or a psychologist to help you manage the symptoms when they occur. There are also medications for anxiety, including antidepressants and sedatives, to reduce the severity of the symptoms whenever it attacks.
Below are some things you can try to get a good night’s sleep while coping with psychological distress:
- Set a sleeping schedule. Try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Stay active and exercise. Be outdoors for at least 30 minutes while the light is out and get a good workout not too close to bedtime.
- Meditate, practice deep breathing exercises and take short naps
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals, especially before bedtime
- Quit smoking
- Pour a drop of essential oils into your humidifier and keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet
- Keep your screens off and limit the use of electronic devices when you’re about to sleep
- Take a warm bath, listen to music, and read a book before bed
Anyone can feel the symptoms of globus sensation from time to time, but it shouldn’t last for long and would go away by doing simple treatments, such as taking more care of your throat, practicing good vocal hygiene, and doing neck and throat exercises.
Suppose these won’t resolve your globus sensation and other symptoms occur, such as pain and difficulty when swallowing, an obvious physical mass that is seen in your throat, and chronic cough.
In that case, you should seek medical attention immediately. These may indicate severe complications in your throat and requires a doctor’s prescription and advice.