GLOBUS HYSTERICUS: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis

Globus pharyngis, formerly known as Globus Hystericus, is a Latin word (Globus – ball, Hystericus – nervous). It is the feeling of persistent sensation of a lump in the throat. In colloquial language it is an object that blocks the passage of the throat which may or may not interfere with the swallowing process. This lump is described differently by different people but it is simply an area of discomfort or tightening of the muscles around the throat region like the Hypopharynx or Larynx. This sensation does not go away by simple remedies like drinking water or beverages. It is also known as Globus or frog’s throat.

GLOBUS HYSTERICUS CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS

The only physical symptom for detecting Globus Pharyngis is a sensation of an obstruction in the throat which may become irritating as in a few cases even swallowing saliva becomes difficult.

The most common cause for Globus Pharyngis is the inflammation of the muscles in the throat region. This may be caused due to various factors like gastro esophageal reflux disease – Cricopharyngeal Spasm, GERD,  etc.  In simple words the acid that ascends from the stomach to the

mouth may be responsible for Globus Pharyngis. Anxiety and stress are causes and a major symptom for Globus Pharynis. Patients suffering from Globus tend to get anxiety attacks which aggravate the problems which further leads to complications like pain during swallowing or depression. This is totally a psychological problem. Anxiety is not only a cause for Globus but also an important symptom when other physical conditions are absent.

Menopause and a cold infection can also cause Globus pharyngis.

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT

Diagnosis is difficult as Globus can easily be confused for other disorder such as thyroid. The ENT doctor after physically examining the throat can also ask for a chest x-ray or barium swallow x-ray or an endoscopy. In an endoscopy examination a flexible fiber optic endoscope is passed through the throat and the area is checked to confirm the presence of Globus Pharyngis

The Barium swallow x-ray is not invasive, comparatively less expensive and the results are instant. Under this procedure the patient is given a thick fruit flavored liquid containing barium sulphate to drink and then the esophagus, stomach and duodenum are x-rayed to check for abnormalities. The doctor checks for tumors, acid reflux, swallowing disorder, ulcer etc. The Barium Sulphate is not absorbed by the body hence there are no side effects of this procedure.

Once the root cause for Globus Pharynis is known then the correct line of treatment is set. If the cause is psychological then counseling along with anti-depressant tablets are given. If the lump in the throat is associated with swallowing disorder it may be due to a disturbance in the thyroid cartilage for which a surgical treatment of the affected cartilage in necessitated to provide instant relief. If a gastric acid reflux is found to be the underlining cause then just suppressing the gastric and taking proper precaution is sometimes enough.

Though in most cases the Globus does not hinder the day to day activities of the person and hence no form of medical interference may be necessary. Just a few basic life style changes and exercise is enough to keep the lump out of the conscious mind.

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