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General Medical Questions
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Question : I often feel like I have a lump of mucus in my throat. In the morning I spit some of it up, but the sensation doesn't go away. What can I do about it?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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February 12, 2014
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Doctors sometimes use the term "globus sensation" for the feeling of a lump in the throat. It's one of those symptoms we don't fully understand. It can be very uncomfortable. Often no specific reason is found.

You mentioned you have extra mucus that you sometimes cough up. One possibility is allergies, which are causing your nose and sinuses to make extra mucus. At night, when you are lying flat, that mucus collects in the back of your throat. Doctors call it post nasal drip. That’s why you tend to spit it up in the mornings. Treatment may include allergy pills and a nasal inhaler.

Another common cause is 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. A food allergy is another possibility. Avoiding the trigger should relieve the symptoms.

Finally, there is an unusual condition called Zenker's diverticulum. This is 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 you have a chance to swallow it. The diagnosis can be made through an x-ray called a barium swallow. Another way is by endoscopy, where a scope with a camera is placed into the mouth and down the esophagus. Small pouches don't usually need treatment. Larger ones may require surgery.

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