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What could cause a lump in my throat?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Doctors sometimes use the term "globus sensation" for the feeling of a lump in the throat. It's one of those minor maladies about which we know only a little, since medical research focuses mainly on the diseases that are disabling or fatal rather than the symptoms that constantly aggravate us.

If you have extra mucus that you sometimes cough up, then the most likely explanation is that allergies are causing your nose and sinuses to produce extra mucus. At night, when you are lying flat, that mucus collects in the back of your throat. That's why you tend to spit it up in the mornings. The treatment is allergy pills and inhalers.

Another common cause is the regular reflux of stomach contents up into your esophagus and your throat. When this happens a lot, the back of your throat can become irritated, which can feel like a lump. If you sometimes notice a bitter taste in your mouth, that's a clue that reflux could be the source of your problem.

Irritation and swelling in the throat can be part of an allergic reaction to certain medications. Switching to another medicine solves the problem. A food allergy is another possibility. I had a patient who got a lump in her throat and swollen lips any time she ate a mango.

Finally, there is an unusual condition called Zenker's diverticulum, when a pouch forms in the wall of the back of the throat. Food can collect in the pouch and may come back out before it has a chance to be swallowed. Zenker's diverticulum is easily diagnosed and treated, usually by an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.