Globus Hystericus: Anxiety Induced Lump in the Throat Sensation

Merely Me Health Guide June 27, 2011
  • One of our most commented upon member posts concerns a disorder called Globus Hystericus. Member Adinmuh wrote about this mysterious condition in 2007 and the comments keep coming. Here is what she had to say:“I feel as if I’m going out of my mind. Is it a normal part of panic/anxiety disorder to not be able to eat? I have had such difficulty swallowing as I feel I’m going to choke on everything I eat. I feel a tight lump sensation in my throat at all times. It even feels as if I could swallow my own tongue sometimes, even though I know this is not possible. Is anyone else experiencing this?” Indeed, many of you are experiencing this same symptom judging by the 200 or so comments this post has received. Another member wrote about feeling like a lump or knot was in her throat for over six months and was feeling desperate for a solution. Member Barbara wrote that she felt mystery pain in her throat which felt like sharp splinters of glass. All of these members have identified their symptom as part of globus hystericus which is an anxiety related condition with no apparent medical cause. In this post we are going to discuss what it means to have globus hystericus and what you can do about it.

     

    What is Globus Hystericus?

     

    Globus Hystericus is also called by other names including Globus Sensation or Globus Pharyngis. It literally means a feeling of having a lump in your throat or some type of obstruction which may feel like you are choking. Other people may feel pain in their throat and chest. When no underlying medical conditions can be found for these sensations it can be labeled as a psychiatric condition related to anxiety and/or depression. Globus hystericus is suspected when there is no mechanical difficulty with the act of swallowing.

     

    What should you do if you are feeling a lump in your throat?

     

    The first step is to see your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions which can cause this symptom. Your doctor may conduct the following tests to arrive at an appropriate diagnosis:

     

    • A physical examination to feel for any masses in the neck and the floor of the mouth. Your doctor may also observe you drink water or eat solid food such as a cracker. Your neurological functioning may be observed with particular attention to motor functioning.

     

    • If the sensation is causing pain and/or difficulty with swallowing or speaking, you may be referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist. The doctor may use an endoscope to check your throat or order a barium-swallow x-ray.

     

    • In cases where gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is suspected you may be referred to a gastroenterologist. Acid reflux can cause difficulty swallowing, heartburn, regurgitation and a sore throat. Anti-reflux medications may be given to see if there is a reduction in symptoms. In severe cases the doctor may order an Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) to examine the esophagus to look for any damage. A thin tube with a camera on the end is inserted through your mouth and is passed into your esophagus, stomach and small intestine.

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    I have had the medical tests and there is no medical explanation for my lump in the throat sensation. I have been diagnosed with Globus Hystericus. Now what?

     

    • For some patients, going through the medical testing is reassuring that there is no underlying disease or medical disorder causing the lump in the throat sensation. Sometimes the sensation goes away on its own.

     

    • Member suggestions include: Indentifying any medications which may be exacerbating the problem, cutting out caffeine, getting a botox injection to relax the throat muscles (check with your doctor on this), having a good cry, sucking on lozenges especially Fishermen’s Friends lozenges made with menthol and eucalyptus oil , using relaxation methods such as deep breathing exercises, taking zantac or other acid reflux medications, taking anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants, chewing gum, getting a throat massage, drinking lots of water, acupuncture, and warm compresses on the throat.

     

    Remember to consult with your doctor about using any medications or supplements to treat your symptoms.

     

    • Identify your stress triggers so that you can look for a pattern of when your symptoms are most prevalent. Keep a diary of when you experience the lump in your throat sensation and under which conditions.

     

    • Have a good cry. Some say that the symptoms of globus hystericus are related to unresolved emotions such as grief. Having a good cry may help to release these strong emotions and get rid of the lump in your throat sensation at least temporarily.

     

    • Seeing a therapist or psychiatrist may be your best bet in getting some relief from your symptoms. Your therapist may suggest relaxation techniques or in some cases prescribe an anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy may also be an effective strategy to reduce your symptoms. In extreme cases electroconvulsive therapy combined with antidepressants may help some patients with globus hystericus.

    We would like to hear from you. If you suffer from globus hystericus we would like to hear your story. How were you diagnosed? Does anything help your condition? Sharing your story can help others who may be going through the same thing.

     

    Here are some additional articles related to Globus Hystericus:

     

    When Eating Makes You Anxious

     

    Anxiety Symptoms Series: Gagging