The Truth About the Lump in the Throat

Everyone gets that familiar lump in the throat on the verge of every emotional outburst. When we are about to cry, scream or shout, this noticeable lump forms in our throat and sees to prevent us from breathing or even saying a word. What is this lump really?

Well the lump in our throat is not really a lump after all. It is purely a physical sensation we get when our throttles to carry out two opposite functions at the same time. This is the same sensation we feel when we become emotional or are about to cry. Prior to an emotional outburst, natural human instinct brings us into a fight-or-flight state. Trigger factors such as the stressrought about by fear or anger causes our heart to pump a lot harder. As a result, our lungs work double time to keep up with the pumping and our vocal chords stretch wide open to accommodate the larger gulps of air we have to take in to feed our lungs.

In the middle of our larynx is an opening that works like a valve which allows air to pass through into the lungs upon intake. This opening called the glottis is what temporarily closes up when we swallow. Our vocal chords are responsible for direct control over the glottis. It is at its largest when we scream and is at its smallest when we swallow.

The sensation of that lump in the throat occurs when, prior to that emotional outburst, we take in deep breaths. The action forces the glottis to be at its largest. At the same time, just before crying, we attempted to swallow the tears that are coming, which forces the vocal chords to compress on the glottis. Our vocal chords perform two contrast functions, compressing and expanding at the same time, and we feel that tension as the lump in our throat.