A feeling of a lump in the throat is one of the commonest symptoms that is seen by ENT (ear nose & throat) specialists. It may be associated with incessant throat clearing, excessive mucus in the throat (or a feeling of excessive mucus in the throat), feeling of a frog in your throat, tickly feeling in the throat or hoarseness.
Laryngopharyngeal reflux (throat reflux) remains a common cause of a feeling of a lump in the throat. A feeling of a lump in the throat may be also due to globus pharyngeus which is a condition where something is felt in the throat even though there isn’t something physically there. Globus pharyngeus is, however, a diagnosis of exclusion i.e. this diagnosis can only be arrived at when all other possible causes of the symptom have been excluded. Throat cancer may cause a feeling of a lump in the throat and this understandably is a great concern for many people.
A detailed history of your symptoms is required. A careful examination of your neck, mouth and back of your throat is also necessary. Almost inevitably a camera examination (flexible nasoendoscopy) of the voice box and other parts of the throat will be needed to arrive at a diagnosis. A flexible nasoendoscopy examines your throat in much more detail than what can be seen by asking you to open your mouth. Very few people will need further investigations e.g. a scan or an x-ray. Mr Olarinde uses digital video endoscopic equipment to examine your throat at all the hospitals where sees patients. This helps him to make an accurate diagnosis on your first attendance.
What does a lump in the throat feel like?
A lump in the throat is usually painless, although it can be quite uncomfortable and annoying. Many people complain of a ‘frog in the throat’ feeling, as well as a tickly sensation. It can also feel as though something is obstructing the throat. Depending on the cause of the lump, you may have some difficulty swallowing.
What causes a lump in the throat?
The good news is that many causes of a lump in the throat are not dangerous, although they can be uncomfortable. Common causes include irritation from throat clearing, excessive mucus due to allergies, and tightness in the throat caused by stress and muscle tension. Other common causes include laryngopharyngeal reflux (a type of acid reflux in the throat) and globus pharyngeus, which creates a feeling of a lump with no underyling cause.
Should I get a throat lump checked out?
It’s advised that anyone who has a feeling of a lump in the throat alongside other symptoms such as pain (particularly a sore throat), difficulty swallowing, ear pain on one side, weight loss, or a persistent voice change, should arrange to see an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. It’s also important to see a specialist if your symptoms don’t resolve themselves after a few days, or simply if you’re feeling worried or concerned.