Why Do I Have A Lump in My Throat When Swallowing?

Woman holding her throat and wincing.
  • Globus pharyngeus — or a lump in the throat — is a feeling that something is lodged in the back of the throat.

  • Causes of lumps in the throat can vary but commonly include muscle tension, acid reflux, and emotional reactions.

  • Treatment for this sensation includes physical therapy, medication, and dietary changes. It’s also recommended to speak to your doctor if these options don’t provide symptomatic relief.

What is a Lump in the Throat?

A lump in the throat — also known as globus sensation or globus pharyngeus — is a common sensation that feels like something is stuck in the esophagus.

It can make swallowing difficult and uncomfortable, which may cause anxiety. Globus pharyngeus affects people of all ages and genders.

How Does a Lump in the Throat Develop?

A lump in the throat can be caused by several factors. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common causes.

Acid reflux

Acid reflux — or gastroesophageal reflux disease — occurs when stomach bile enters the esophagus, causing irritation and inflammation in the throat.

The bile backing up can also lead to globus symptoms, especially when swallowing.

Muscle tension

Muscle tension in the throat can be caused by emotional reactions — like stress and anxiety — or poor posture.

The tension can make the throat muscles feel tight and uncomfortable, leading to the abnormal sensation of a lump in the throat.

Post nasal drip

This condition occurs when mucus accumulates in the back of the throat and causes irritation and inflammation.

When this happens, it can trigger globus sensation, along with other symptoms like coughing, congestion, and sore throat.

Emotional reactions

Stress, anxiety, and depression can manifest as physical symptoms, one of which is a lump in the throat.

These feelings can also trigger the body’s fight or flight reaction, which may cause muscle tension and discomfort in areas like the throat, neck, and shoulders.

Potential Complications of a Lump in the Throat

A lump in the throat is usually harmless, but it can cause additional feelings of discomfort and anxiety.

In rare cases, it may be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition like cancer or neurological disorders. However, this will be accompanied by a number of other symptoms.

If you constantly feel like there’s a lump in your throat or your symptoms worsen, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

How Can You Get Rid of a Lump in the Throat When Swallowing?

It’s usually fairly straightforward to treat a lump in the throat, depending on the underlying cause.

If globus pharyngeus is linked to stress or emotional factors, it may take longer to treat.

Muscle therapy

Incorporating gentle movements like massaging, stretching, and other relaxation exercises into your day can help relieve muscle tension in the throat.

This can help reduce the common globus sensation and may also improve swallowing.

Nasal spray

If you have a post nasal drip, using a nasal spray can help reduce the irritation and inflammation in the throat.

Once this clears up, the feeling of a lump in the throat may also start to disappear.

Man using nasal spray.


For individuals with acid reflux, antacids may be helpful in managing bile backed up in the throat.

Antacids may also reduce inflammation and irritation that can contribute to globus sensation.

Changes in eating habits

Making changes to your eating habits may help you avoid secondary conditions like post nasal drip and acid reflux, which can cause a lump in the throat.

These dietary changes can include avoiding acidic and spicy foods and eating smaller meals. Not eating right before bed will also help.


Therapy can help address the underlying emotional causes of a lump in the throat, like anxiety or depression.

Regular sessions may reduce these emotional reactions and help you find healthier ways to manage them.

This may also help improve physical symptoms like the feeling of a lump in your throat and muscle tension.

When Will the Feeling of a Lump in Your Throat Go Away?

The feeling of a lump in your throat can vary in duration and intensity. In most cases, it will go away on its own within a few hours or days.

If you experience persistent symptoms that don’t seem to improve—like increased difficulty swallowing food or unexplained weight loss— seek medical attention.

Can You Prevent The Sensation of Lumps from Forming in the Throat?

While there is no sure way to prevent globus sensation, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the risk of this happening. These include:

  • Quitting smoking to reduce irritation and inflammation in the throat

  • Drinking plenty of water to ease acid reflux symptoms

  • Resting your voice when sick to prevent the throat from becoming irritated and inflamed

  • Losing weight (if recommended by a doctor) to reduce pressure on the throat

You can also incorporate eating habits such as:

  • Waiting at least three hours to lie down after you’ve eaten

  • Avoiding spicy, acidic, and high fat foods

Man drinking water.

Where Can You Learn More About Globus Sensation and Similar Conditions?

If you’re struggling with a lump in the throat or you’re concerned about any of your other symptoms, you can speak to a board-certified physician or nurse from the comfort of your home.

Head over to LifeMD to schedule a telehealth appointment.

Dr. Anthony Puopolo

Dr. Puopolo holds a B.A. in Biology from Tufts University, M.A. in Biology from Boston University, and Doctor of Medicine from the Boston University School of Medicine. He also completed a Family Medicine and Psychiatry residency program in the U.S. Army.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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