Globus Sensation: The Feeling of Having a Lump in Your Throat

The feeling that your throat is closing up and that you're about to choke can be a symptom of recurring anxiety. Let's take a closer look.
Globus Sensation: The Feeling of Having a Lump in Your Throat

Last update: 07 January, 2022

You feel a lump in your throat. It seems that there’s something stuck there. You swallow with difficulty and, as you continue doing so – to verify that everything’s okay – your throat narrows more and more. You try to calm down, but the feeling persists. In the end, your upset increases and you feel like crying. What you’re experiencing is globus sensation.

Globus sensation, also known as a lump in the throat as referred to in this article is a symptom of anxiety. When you experience it, you have the constant feeling that your throat is going to close up and that you’re going to choke. However,  in reality, this doesn’t happen.

Why does globus sensation appear?

Globus sensation is one of the main symptoms that indicate you have an anxiety problem. Indeed, many people who suffer from anxiety manifest this feeling of choking. However, it’s only a sensation. At no point are you going to choke. In fact, even if you have difficulty swallowing, if you try to drink a glass of water you’ll have no problem in doing so.

Nevertheless, globus sensation tends to ‘gets worse’ if you believe that you’re going to choke. In this case, the feeling of choking may increase and you feel desperate. You’re completely aware of what’s happening, However, this doesn’t mean that the globus sensation will disappear quickly. It doesn’t work like that.

Despite having experienced it on more than one occasion and knowing that nothing bad is going to happen to you, globus sensation still causes you a great deal of anxiety. That’s because you tend to suffer it for ten or fifteen minutes with no sign of it subsiding. If this is something that happens regularly, you should seek professional help. Because it indicates that there’s something in your life that’s making you anxious, something that you don’t know how to solve.

“Fear sharpens the senses while anxiety paralyzes them.”

-Kurt Goldstein-

man who touches his throat because he suffers from hysterical bolus

Characteristics of globus sensation

You already have some idea of how globus sensation manifests itself and how, if you suffer from anxiety, you’re more likely to experience it. However, there are certain characteristics we should also mention:

  • It appears when you’re calm. Globus sensation doesn’t appear in moments of the greatest tension or anxiety. On the contrary, it tends to appear when you’re calm. This is due to a build-up of your anxiety. The problem with this is that it prevents you from identifying the problem.
  • You find it difficult to speak. Although you’re not going to choke, these choking sensations are produced by a tension that’s centered in your throat. This tension tends to make it hard for you to speak, almost as if you had a sore throat.
suffering girl suffering hysterical bolus

Ignoring your symptoms of anxiety

If you’ve ever experienced globus sensation you’ve probably ended up in the ER. The doctors usually examine you to see if there’s anything obstructing your throat, which there isn’t. Then, they’ll often give you a tablet and send you home. However, this doesn’t solve your problem.

Ignoring symptoms of anxiety can have serious consequences. One of them is that you won’t be able to see what’s actually causing it. As a matter of fact, anxiety is usually a warning, telling you to stop. Because something isn’t right and you’re not noticing. You can ignore it, but it won’t go away. On the contrary, it’ll try to warn you in multiple other ways that there’s a problem you must solve.

“I’m being attacked by something I can’t escape from.”

-Sherri Paricio Bornhoft-

Globus sensation can be the first warning with which anxiety tries to make you realize that something’s happening to you. If you ignore it, you may experience depersonalization, somatization of emotions, chest tightness, or facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy) among other symptoms.

Ideally, you go to a professional to solve what’s causing you anxiety. Because it can appear at any time. Furthermore, it doesn’t give you any warning signs or alarm signals so you can prepare for its arrival. However, it does it this way so that you realize what’s happening to you requires your immediate attention.

Warning signs

Although most of the time globus sensation rarely requires immediate medical evaluation, it’s important to be alert to other signs that could indicate the presence of other more severe disorders that might be a cause for concern. These are:

  • Pain in the neck or throat.
  • Weight loss.
  • Pain or choking feelings.
  • Regurgitation of food.
  • Muscular weakness.
  • Lump in the neck that can be seen or felt.
  • Progressive worsening of symptoms.

The appearance of some or any of these symptoms means you should consult a health professional immediately. That’s because, in some cases, the sensation can be due to something other than stress or anxiety.

Treatment for globus sensation

There’s no one treatment that alleviates all cases of globus sensation, as the circumstances of each sufferer vary. Sometimes, it’s enough to reassure the patient or, to make them understand that this sensation appears alongside certain moods.

However, if there’s underlying depression, anxiety disorder, or other behavioral disorder that appears to be causing additional symptoms that are harming the patient, psychotherapeutic and/or psychiatric assistance is ideal. In some cases, medication will be recommended to alleviate all of the symptoms.

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  • Finkenbine, R., & Miele, V. J. (2004). Globus hystericus: a brief review. General hospital psychiatry26(1), 78-82.