A reader messaged me about an unusual symptom they were having after starting a ketogenic diet. They had never experienced this before, and it only occurred once they switched their diet up.
While it was unusual at the time, I was able to help them in identifying what it was and then resolving the issue for good, and here's what it came down to.
What does a lump in your throat on keto mean? This feeling or sensation of a “lump” is often referred to as globes sensation. Experiencing a lump like feeling in the throat after starting a ketogenic diet is often a result of the following:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Stress and Anxiety
- Postnasal drip
In this article, I'll go over what may be causing the lump in your throat, other signs and symptoms you may be experiencing, who is most susceptible, and how to hopefully alleviate and make the lump go away.
Lump In Your Throat On Keto?
This lump you may be experiencing can be quite annoying, but most people say that it's not painful. What's odd is you may feel a bump, lump, or swell, but there is no actual lump there.
This lump is referred to as globus sensation and may be due to a handful of causes, making it hard to identify and treat without an actual physical examination.
However, if your lump is painful or it's making it difficult to swallow, this may be a sign of a more significant issue.
In this case, please seek medical attention right away.
What May Cause The Tightness Or A Lump In Your Throat On Keto?
Globus sensation may be a result of a variety of causes, but the most often ones I hear from when starting a ketogenic diet are:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Postnasal drip
- Stress and anxiety
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
If you've suffered from acid reflux BEFORE starting a ketogenic diet, there may be a higher chance that you will suffer from it further after starting a ketogenic diet.
But you started keto to get rid of your acid reflux? I'll explain this later on in the article.
Excess mucus from your sinuses can accumulate in the back of your throat, which may cause a lump-like feeling.
People who start a ketogenic diet are often faced with what people refer to as the “keto flu.” When experiencing the keto flu, people usually have many of the same signs and symptoms of the influenza flu.
The keto flu is often a result of dehydration and lack of electrolytes.
If you're experiencing these flu-like symptoms, I would recommend making sure you're hydrated, but only after you're getting in a sufficient amount of electrolytes to help with fluid balance.
I'd recommend something with a good amount of sodium AND potassium such as the following supplements:
Stress and Anxiety
When starting a ketogenic, this may often cause your body to enter a stressful period. After all, you're completely changing your body from relying on carbohydrates to burning fat and ketones as fuel.
The stress of switching your diet and the extreme fatigue from dehydration and lack of electrolytes (keto flu) may trigger globus sensation.
Another tip to bridge the transition period between a standard and ketogenic diet is the use of exogenous ketones.
The body is not yet efficient at producing or utilizing ketones, and introducing ketones from an outside source temporarily may help alleviate these symptoms for many.
Muscle tension and coordination
Fatty foods can cause muscles in the throat to relax, which allows more stomach acid to back up. Most people following a ketogenic diet increase their fat intake exponentially, which isn't necessary (and which I'll get to in a moment).
When the throat isn't using for talking or swallowing, your throat naturally relaxes, but eating a high amount of fat may exacerbate it.
Who Is Likely To Experience A Lump In Their Throat?
The feeling of a lump in your throat, or globus sensation, is quite common. Four percent of all new eat, nose, and throat referrals are from globus sensation. 1
Women are more likely to report the symptoms of globus sensation tan men, but it happens equally in men as it does in women. Additionally, middle-aged individuals are more likely than young adults to report globus sensation. 2
No surprise there. It sounds like something that would describe me in many situations.
Also, overweight and obese individuals are more likely to suffer from acid reflux and GERD than healthy weight individuals. Weight loss has shown positive effects in GERD, which a ketogenic diet may help with overtime. 3 4
How To Get Rid Of The Lump In Your Throat?
There are no specific treatments for globus sensation, so we have to tackle the most common reasons for it.
Here are a few tips that have worked for many individuals who've suffered from globus sensation due to acid reflux or GERD.
Limit or eliminate coffee
That means no more bulletproof coffees or minimal amounts. I'm surprised at all the people who take up coffee once starting a ketogenic diet.
Yes, this may suck, but you'll have to weight out whether getting rid of that lump and GERD is more worth it than your cup of Joe.
Reduce fats and oils
A ketogenic diet is only a high-fat diet as a byproduct of eliminating carbs. Once you eliminate carbohydrates, you're left with protein and fat, but that doesn't mean you have to eat high fat.
The only requirement to achieve and remain in ketosis is the reduction or elimination of carbohydrates, not eating high-fat foods.
While it's not as simple as what I'm about to say, the less fat you eat while on your ketogenic diet, the MORE fat you'll burn from your body.
That's right, your body will either get the fat to fuel itself from the fat on your fork or the fat on your body, so which would you rather give it?
Don't want to reduce fat? Try other sources
You may find that different sources of fats affect your GERD differently than others. Switch up butter and dairy for fattier cuts of meat or vice versa. Experiment with your diet until you find something that works for you.
See a doctor
Maybe you need a person in a white lab coat to tell you what I just stated, but that's ok.
See your doctor so they can reiterate this information.
For a more detailed read on keto, heartburn, and acid reflux/GERD, then read my article below.
Suffering from post nasal drip or keto flu?
Try an over-the-counter nasal spray or decongestant such as Mucinex.
Also, make sure you're drinking plenty of fluids and replacing lost electrolytes by salting your foods and eating potassium-rich keto-friendly sources like avocados and green leafy vegetables.
You can also supplement with the following electrolyte supplements formulated for keto dieters:
Is The Weird Feeling In Your Throat Something Else?
Globus sensation as I've described it till now is not a severe condition, although very annoying.
However, other more severe conditions may start with the same signs and symptoms you should look out for.
Some of these symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty swallowing
- A lump that can be seen or felt
If any of the above symptoms persist, please seek medical attention.
Will The Lump In Your Throat Go Away?
Since it's hard to pinpoint an exact cause, here are tips to take care of your throat. Here are a few tips to help prevent possible issues with a lump in your throat from reoccurring or getting worse.
- Stay hydrated
- Rest your voice
- Don't smoke
Additionally, if you find yourself with a sore throat and not a lump (or in addition to), you may want to read my article below.
A lump in the throat (globus sensation) when starting a ketogenic diet is quite common for individuals who may have suffered from acid reflux before starting keto.
Globus sensation, as referred to in the medical literature, is not considered a serious condition and should not result in more severe complications.
However, if you find yourself experiencing other symptoms such as pain, difficulty swallowing, or a fever, your best course of action would be to seek medical attention.