What Is Uvula?
Uvula is often referred as inner tongue which is found hanging in the back of your throat. When the doctor examines you by asking you to open your mouth widely, he can see the uvula clearly. It is small fleshy object made of connective tissues and enclosed by epithelial layer. Uvula can also be defined as small bell shaped structure hanging at the back of your throat made of soft connective tissues. Uvula can get inflamed and swollen due to many reasons and swollen uvula is known as uvulitis.
Uvula is an important organ of the body which involves in filtering any kind of micro-organisms thus preventing them to enter the digestive tract of the body. Indirectly uvula helps in preventing many infections and diseases thus protecting your health. Uvula is not removed like appendix for this reason and the surgeon considers removing it only if there is strong reason like cancer and other causes.
Swollen Uvula Causes :
Infection is the main cause for inflammation of uvula. The uvula is attacked by strep bacteria making it swollen. Streptococcus bacteria can cause infection on the uvula before entering the digestive system. Acute uvulitis (inflamed uvula) is common among children diagnosed with throat pain and fever.
- Pharyngitis (infection of pharyngea) can also cause swollen uvula.
- Allergic fever or hay fever can infect the uvula and throat leading to swollen uvula.
- Angioneurotic edema is a rare hereditary condition causing inflammation of many organs in the body including the uvula.
- Throat infection like strep throat can easily infect the uvula causing redness and inflammation.
- Tonsillectomy or removal of tonsils from the throat can cause pain in the uvula. Inflammation of the uvula can occur due to anesthesia effect or surgery.
- When the body’s normal level of fluids is reduced it can cause dehydration leading to dryness of throat.
- Smoking can also increase dryness of throat causing swollen uvula.
- GERD and other acid reflux disease can irritate the soft lining of uvula leading to inflammation. When the partially digested food from the stomach is pushed back to the throat along with acid it can cause irritation of the throat and uvula.
- Sleep apnea is another disease in which the person sleeps with opened mouth. This can lead to extreme dryness and swollen uvula.
- Taking hot foods and drinks frequently can cause swelling of uvula.
- Drinking too much of alcohol daily can cause inflammation of uvula in addition to other health problems.
- Any trauma of the throat and mouth ulcers and upper respiratory tract infections can infect the uvula causing inflammation.
Swollen Uvula Symptoms :
- The uvula becomes red and swollen changing from its normal color to bright red.
- The uvula becomes thick due to swelling causing considerable pain while swallowing.
- Uvula gets enlarged and sometimes it may touch your tongue causing persistent drooling.
- White or red spots can develop on the uvula indicating an infection causing pain while eating.
- It can cause problems in eating and can produce symptoms like mild fever and body pain.
- In serious cases, uvulitis can cause other symptoms like choking and difficulty in speaking. Sometimes your voice can become hoarse and painful due to severe inflammation of uvula.
Swollen Uvula Tests :
Any doctor can easily diagnose swollen uvula by mere physical examination of your throat. She may request for blood test to check the levels of WBC indicating an infection. Small tissue sample is removed from the uvula using sterilized instrument and tested in the laboratory to get clear picture of the condition.
Uvulitis and Epiglottitis :
Sometimes, epiglottitis is confused for swollen uvula. Epiglottitis is a serious condition wherein the windpipe gets blocked. The patient may complain of choking, breathlessness, and shortness of breath. This condition is quite serious and should get immediate medical help to prevent respiratory failure. Children of age group 2-6 years are at risk of developing epiglottitis.
Swollen Uvula Treatment :
- First line treatment for swollen uvula comes in the form of painkillers like Ibuprofen. It can drastically reduce inflammation and pain within a day or two.
- Swollen uvula can be treated easily with medications. Often infection would be the cause for which suitable strength of antibiotics are prescribed. You need to complete the course of antibiotics to prevent any further infection.
- In severe cases steroids are given for swollen uvula due to pharyngitis or other respiratory tract infections. Once you start taking the drugs, redness and pain are controlled and there will not be any difficulty in swallowing and drinking.
- Antihistamines are given for allergic reaction that has caused inflamed uvula.
- In rare cases, swollen uvula can develop into cancer for which it would be removed surgically.
Swollen Uvula Home Remedies :
Swollen uvula is a kind of mild infection for which many homemade remedies are available. You can consider trying these home remedies if the symptoms are mild.
- Salt Water – Add 1 tsp of table salt to a glass of lukewarm water. Gargling this solution slowly can help in getting rid of redness and pain due to swollen uvula. Salt is effective in clearing off many infections including bacteria. Repeat this remedy several times a day and you will feel comfortable.
- Ginger Tea – Prepare aroma ginger tea by adding freshly cut ginger pieces in hot water. By drinking this tea inflammation of the throat and uvula gets reduced automatically. Ginger is enriched with anti-inflammatory property naturally.
- Honey – Add 1-2 tsp of pure honey to a glass of warm water and sip it slowly. Honey can heal any sort of inflammation easily within a day.
- Herbal Lozenges – You can try using herbal lozenges for resolving pain due to swollen uvula. Cough drops can also be used liberally to treat swollen uvula.
- Basil Leaves – Prepare hot tea with freshly cut basil leaves and drink this decoction slowly.
- Black Pepper Tea – You can crush few pieces of black pepper and make tea to get quick relief from redness and pain of the throat.
Additional Tips :
- Avoid having very hot or very cold drinks if you have swollen uvula which can make symptoms worse.
- Drink plenty of fluids and water to keep the body well hydrated.
- Prepare vegetable soups with any veggies of your choice and add pepper powder before sipping it slowly.
- Eat soft blanch diet for few days or until the redness and inflammation has cleared.
- Quit smoking and drinking completely when you have swollen uvula.