What is Swollen Uvula? Full Explanation

Swollen Uvula | What is Swollen Uvula

Swollen Uvula: Your uvula is the fleshy piece of tissue hanging down over your tongue toward the back of your mouth. It’s part of the soft palate. The soft palate helps close your nasal passages when you swallow. The uvula helps push food toward your throat.

Swollen Uvula
Swollen Uvula

Uvulitis is inflammation, including swelling, of the uvula. It can be irritating, but it’s usually temporary. However, if swelling of the uvula is severe, it can interfere with your ability to swallow. It’s not common, but a swollen uvula can restrict your breathing.

There are many causes of uvulitis. Sometimes uvulitis can be resolved with a simple home remedy. Sometimes medical treatment is necessary.

Swollen Uvula Symptoms

Though rare, the uvula and the surrounding areas can become swollen. Redness, soreness, and inflammation of the uvula is called uvulitis.

If the immune system is not able to remove a harmful organism like a virus or bacterium, the uvula can become infected.

With uvulitis, a person may feel as if something is stuck in the back of their throat as well as experience difficulty swallowing. In some cases, the sound of the voice may also be affected.

Other symptoms include:

  • problems breathing
  • sore throat
  • swollen tonsils
  • excessive saliva
  • gagging
  • nasal regurgitation
  • fever
  • pain
  • trouble or painful swallowing

Swollen Uvula Causes

Bacterial and viral infections such as strep throat, mononucleosis, or respiratory tract infections can cause uvulitis. The common cold is an easy way to pick up an infection because people’s nasal passages are typically blocked up. This leads them to breathe through their mouths.

Infectious uvulitis typically occurs with other conditions, such as an infection of the mouth or throat. Any of these conditions can lead to inflammation in the throat, which may then lead to uvulitis.

Other causes of uvulitis include:

  • Allergies: Allergic reactions can trigger a buildup of fluid in the throat or mouth resulting in swelling. It can be the result of an allergic reaction to food or even an insect sting. Anaphylactic reaction or shock is very dangerous and requires emergency medical treatment immediately.
  • Genetics: A cleft lip or cleft palate is a congenital trait that affects the roof of the mouth. This can cause the uvula to be enlarged, off place, shrunken, or even missing.

An elongated uvula is a hereditary trait. Though it may not swell, it can cause similar symptoms due to the size. Hereditary angioedema is a rare genetic condition that causes swelling throughout the body, and it can affect the uvula.

A swollen uvula can also be caused by:

  • dry mouth
  • injury to the uvula or the throat area
  • acid reflux

Too much smoking and alcohol can also lead to mouth irritation, which can result in uvulitis. Breathing in chemicals can also cause swelling.

Some people may experience some swelling in their uvula after surgery. General anesthesia can cause irritation and a swollen uvula. Trauma from tubes inserted into the throat can also lead to uvulitis.

Swollen Uvula Treatment

Treatment of a swollen uvula will vary based on the cases discussed.

Swollen Uvula Treatment
Swollen Uvula Treatment
  • Infectious causes—treatment with antibiotics if bacterial
  • Noninfectious causes—treatment of symptoms of sore throat by using throat lozenges, suck or chewing on ice chips, or using topical anesthetics like lidocaine.
  • Breathing difficulties—epinephrine shot or inhaled epinephrine, IV steroids, and IV antihistamines
With proper treatment, you’ll usually recover from a swollen uvula without any long-lasting effects. Minor swelling of the uvula may go away on its own without medical treatment.

Swollen Uvula From Snoring

Any person can snore. Frequently, people who do not regularly snore will report snoring after a viral illness, after drinking alcohol, or when taking some medications.

People who snore can have any body type. We frequently think of a large man with a thick neck as a snorer. However, a thin woman with a small neck can snore just as loudly. In general, as people get older and as they gain weight, snoring will worsen.

Swollen Uvula Touching Tongue

Around 45 percent of adults snore at least occasionally, with 25 percent snoring constantly. Snoring occurs when a person’s airways at the back of the mouth and nose are obstructed. This area is where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate uvula.

When the structures strike each other and vibrate during breathing, the result is snoring. If the uvula is enlarged, snoring can become an even bigger problem. The uvula is believed to play a role in snoring or sleep apnea because in some people with these conditions, the uvula is swollen.

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