Globus syndrome

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Globus syndrome
Globus pharyngis creates the sensation of a lump in the throat. (Getty creative)

The condition known as globus pharyngis or globus syndrome was first brought to light about 2,000 years ago by Hippocrates the "father of medicine." In his medical notes he documented the condition as a nuisance type of illness, brought on by psychological abnormality. During the time of Hippocrates globus syndrome was known as "global hystericus" but modern day physicians appear to have found a link between the globus syndrome condition and acid reflux.

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What is globus syndrome?

The term globus syndrome is also referred to as globus sensation; a condition that is denoted by a feeling of fullness in the throat. Merck explains that patients who have been diagnosed with globus syndrome often experience the sensation of a lump or mass in the area of the throat. However, upon further examination by a physician there is no physical evidence that there is any obstruction in the throat.

Symptoms

Besides feeling like they have a lump in their throats, patients also describe globus syndrome as feeling like food or a foreign object is lodged in the back of the throat. Nexium Research explains that weight loss is not an issue because the syndrome does not interfere with eating. It does, however, make it difficult for a patient to swallow saliva and medications that are in pill form. Some patients report that globus syndrome is more severe during the evening hours.

How is it diagnosed?

A patient experiencing the symptoms of globus syndrome should be evaluated by a physician. During the examination, a physician will look for indications of hoarseness or a tumour under the tongue. The presence of either of these would rule globus syndrome and indicate an underlying illness. In the book "Diagnosis and Treatment of Symptoms of the Respiratory Tract," author Richard S. Irwin reveals that the attending physician also will examine the throat, sinuses and neck in order to rule out illness. Diagnostic tests may also be used to confirm that the globus syndrome is not caused by a mass or build up of phlegm.

Causes

The cause of globus syndrome remains unknown but physicians theorise that it may be related to gastro-oseophageal reflux disease (GERD). According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, globus syndrome is the most common symptom associated with GERD. In fact, between 23 and 60 per cent of patients that experience globus syndrome are also diagnosed with gastro-oseophageal reflux disease.

Treatment

No medications have proven effective in treating globus syndrome, but physicians have noted that their patients have a reduction in globus syndrome symptoms once GERD has been treated. Rhinologist and nasal plastic surgeon Dr. Joe Marais explains that continuous throat clearing and swallowing can make the sensations associated with globus syndrome more pronounced and suggests making a conscious effort to limit such habits. Also, sucking on a piece of hard candy or swallowing a cold drink may also be helpful.

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