News, Culture & Society

ASK DR ELLIE CANNON: Why can’t I clear the big lump in my throat? 

For months I have suffered from a lump in my throat – no matter how much I swallow or cough, I can’t clear it. My GP couldn’t see anything untoward, nor could the ear, nose and throat (ENT) consultant I was referred to. He diagnosed me with globus pharyngeus. Apart from being told to lose weight, which I have, he was unhelpful. The problem persists, so how can I get rid of it?

The defining feature of globus pharyngeus, or just globus, is that no disease can be found to account for it. Therefore, it is imperative that patients have an ENT review to ensure there are no physical changes, including signs of cancer.

While there is no cure for globus, it does resolve in time. It can take as long as two years, but two-thirds of people will recover completely.

Globus pharyngeus has no cure but it does resolve over time, in some cases taking two years

Treatments can be tried in the meantime to lessen discomfort. Acid coming up from the stomach, known as acid reflux, can be a factor. The best way to lessen that is through weight loss but dietary changes, such as reducing your alcohol and coffee intake, should also help.

Speech and language therapy can help to reduce tension and tightness in the larynx and throat through voice exercises and neck massages.

Globus may start or can be worsened by stress. The anxiety from the lump in the throat and what may be causing it creates a vicious cycle of tension that only exacerbates the feeling. Counselling, mindfulness and exercise can also be useful in controlling the problem.

I have recently been diagnosed with ME. How long must I put up with this fatigue?


More from Dr Ellie Cannon for The Mail on Sunday…

ME, now more commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), may arise after a period of physical or mental health problems, or even without prior warning.

Putting a timeframe on the condition is difficult but one study suggests about 40 per cent of sufferers improve after five years.

Treatment can be beneficial but will not offer a cure.

Many experts now think CFS stems from problems with the nervous system. It is not uncommon for people to suffer fatigue after a virus or illness. But no conclusive link has ever been found.

The most important thing is to get a GP referral to the nearest CFS clinic. Sleep, rest and relaxation techniques are also incredibly important.

Graded exercise therapy is the mainstay of CFS treatment.

This involves a programme of activity tailored to suit an individual and should ideally be under the supervision of a physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

In trials, cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to be effective. It’s also important to note that before CFS is diagnosed, tests must be carried out to rule out the other common causes of fatigue.

Don’t feel guilty about a caesarean 

Emma Thompson, pictured, claimed last week that the 'pain of giving birth is now optional' because of a rise in the caesarean rate

Emma Thompson, pictured, claimed last week that the ‘pain of giving birth is now optional’ because of a rise in the caesarean rate

Women are opting for caesareans over natural births because they’re being lied to about how much it hurts to have a baby, according to Emma Thompson. Last week the actress, 59, whose daughter Gaia, 19, was born naturally without pain relief, said: ‘The pain of giving birth is now optional.’

Well, it’s true that both elective and emergency caesareans are on the rise, but it is not because women are ‘too posh to push’. It is because of the increase in complex pregnancies and births, with obesity and age the main reasons.

I’d say that almost all women want a natural birth, given the choice. But sometimes it’s not the safest option, and that will be the primary concern for doctors and parents.

The good news is that infant and maternal death rates are the lowest they have ever been.

Mothers who opt for medical interventions should not feel like failures or be judged.

Patients need a GP, not an app 

New Health Secretary Matt Hancock has spoken about no longer having a regular GP as he uses an app that allows him to have video-conference appointments.

Of course, the service works for Mr Hancock who is tech-literate and, I suspect, quite healthy. But we still don’t know how it fares on a typical patient population who are often more vulnerable, more unwell and less savvy.

I’m all for NHS use of new technology – but not when it’s not actually suitable for the majority of my patients.

Monkeypox is no cause for alarm

Monkeypox hit the headlines last week after a second case was reported in the UK. But there is little cause for alarm: it is rarely spread between people but rather from infected animals or contaminated material, such as clothing.

It can spread when someone is in close contact with an infected person, but there is a very low risk of transmission to the general population.

While monkeypox can be very serious, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever come into contact with it, unless you are travelling to affected countries.

Doctors ditched monthly weigh-ins for pregnant women in the 1990s because they caused anxiety, so it’s bizarre that the Royal College of Midwives is calling for their return.

Obesity is definitely an issue, but telling someone they are overweight is pretty pointless unless you can offer a solution – and midwives aren’t trained for that.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson says she doesn’t want to be Prime Minister for the sake of her mental health. 

Good for her. 

Having written a book on workplace stress, I know all too well the huge impact a job can have on your mental and physical health. 

But until workplaces universally adopt measures to prevent this, it is up to individuals like Ruth to use personal strategies to protect their wellbeing – and in some cases that will mean avoiding certain career paths.