Lump in your throat? 4 common causes and how to relieve it

Allergies & ENT

by David Winter, MD

Apr 18, 2024

Have you ever felt like there's a lump in your throat? It's more than just an expression, it could be a medical condition.

It's always important to listen to your body, so learn what could be causing a lump in your throat, along with symptoms, treatment options and when you should speak with your doctor. 

Why do I feel a lump in my throat?

The most common condition that causes a non-painful lump feeling in your throat is a condition called globus. The globus sensation makes it feel like a lump or foreign body is stuck in your throat when there’s not actually anything there.

People may describe the globus sensation as:

  • A lump
  • Something stuck
  • Tightness
  • Fullness
  • Pressure

It is important to know that this feeling of a tightening or of a lump in your throat is common and can usually be resolved. Thousands of people experience globus every year, and most of the time, it isn’t a serious condition.

What causes a lump in your throat?

The feeling of a lump in your throat or globus sensation has several possible causes, but two of the most common ones are stress and reflux. However, since other conditions could also be behind a lump in your throat, it’s important to pay attention to additional symptoms or warning signs.

If the sensation is painful, accompanied by unintentional weight loss, or if you can feel a swelling or lump in your throat, you should seek medical attention. Your physician can work with you to get to the source of your symptoms.

Some conditions that could cause a lump or other symptoms in your throat include:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease—often called GERD or acid reflux—is one of the major causes of globus. Studies have reported that reflux is found in anywhere from 23–68% of people with globus sensation. With GERD, acid comes up from your stomach into your esophagus, leading to symptoms like heartburn and sometimes the feeling of a lump or tightening.

Esophagus conditions

Along with GERD, other esophageal conditions may lead to a feeling of a lump. For example, esophageal spasm can cause discomfort that is usually farther down in the chest. Esophageal motility disorders—where the muscles in the esophagus don’t move food through the esophagus as they should—can also sometimes lead to globus.


Dysphagia is a condition where you have difficulty swallowing. This is different from globus, which is just a fullness or tightness sensation. Swallowing is not usually affected with globus, so you should talk with your doctor if you are having swallowing problems along with the feeling of a lump.

Thyroid disease

Your thyroid is located in the lower part of your neck near your throat, so it’s possible for swelling in the thyroid to lead to a feeling of something in your throat. But inflammation of the thyroid is a rare condition. If thyroid inflammation is the cause, the thyroid itself will be tender.

Can anxiety cause a lump in throat?

Anxiety can cause the feeling of a lump in your throat. Globus sensation is one example of the many ways that anxiety and stress can lead to physical symptoms in your body. This sensation may come and go, and you may notice the symptom more often during times of high stress. If you have globus related to anxiety, it’s helpful to recognize the connection so you can take steps to manage your symptoms.

How to get rid of lump in throat

Sometimes, the feeling of a lump in your throat gets better on its own. But you can also try several techniques at home to help get rid of globus, such as:

  • Relaxing
  • Taking sips of water
  • Minimizing coffee, alcohol and spicy or carbonated beverages
  • Doing neck stretching exercises

If another condition is behind your globus, diagnosing and treating that condition lets you get to the source of the problem and resolve your symptoms. For instance, antacids and protein pump inhibitor medications can help if the condition is due to reflux. Options like speech therapy could be helpful if you have a swallowing disorder.

While most cases of globus or a feeling of a lump aren’t a reason to worry, it’s important to listen to what your body is telling you and get checked if something doesn’t feel right.

Your primary care physician can help you understand the cause of the lump in your throat, treat any underlying conditions and guide you on ways to better manage your health. Find care near you.

About the Author

David Winter, MD, is an internal medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Signature Medicine – Tom Landry.

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