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Swollen Uvula Causes

Swollen Uvula Causes

A swollen uvula, although an annoying condition, is not usually serious. Here, we will know what causes a swollen uvula and a few self-care treatment measures for the same.
Rajib Singha
Last Updated: Apr 7, 2018
According to medical experts, the uvula may be an accessory organ of speech. Furthermore, many singers believe that it is their uvula which helps them produce a vibrato.

The uvula is a grape-shaped fleshy lobe made of tissue and muscular fibers. You can see it if you open your mouth wide. It can be seen hanging from the soft palate at the back of the throat. A swollen uvula, also known as uvulitis, may result from multiple factors, the most common of which have been discussed in the following section.

What Swells Up the Uvula?

I. Mostly, uvulitis may be associated with infections, such as strep throat, epiglottitis, tonsillitis, and mononucleosis.

II. Dry throat is another common condition that may result in uvulitis. You may have a dry throat due to the following factors:

• Breathing through your mouth while sleeping
• Smoking
• Snoring
• Exposure to dry conditions
• Dehydration

III. A swollen uvula may also point towards an allergic reaction in the body. Such reactions may be caused by certain medicines, food, or something that you may have inhaled, or touched.

Note.― If uvulitis is accompanied by a severe or rapid swelling of the mouth, or throat, seek immediate medical attention. This may indicate anaphylaxis―a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Furthermore, if uvulitis is accompanied by abnormal skin reactions, then it could be possible that an allergic reaction is the culprit behind the condition.

IV. Having solid or liquid food that is extremely hot may also lead to a swollen uvula. However, such incidents occur less commonly.

V. People, who suffer from acid reflux commonly experience uvulitis. In this condition, the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. This may cause a burning sensation in the chest and irritate, or swell up the uvula.

VI. Medical experts also blame hereditary angioedema, a rare medical condition, for causing uvulitis. This condition triggers rapid swelling in different parts of the body.

Uvulitis Self-care Treatment Measures

Uvulitis is usually not serious and goes away with simple treatment measures undertaken at home. Here's what you can do to manage this condition.

I. Always remember that lukewarm saline water is your new best friend when you are dealing with uvulitis. Dissolve one teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of lukewarm water. Just gargle the solution, and spit it out. Gargle whenever you feel an irritation in the throat.

II. It is a good idea to chew on ice chips when your uvula is swollen or irritated. The ice will help to reduce the swelling and irritation.

III. Dehydration may worsen the condition. So, up your fluid intake; when we say fluid, we only mean non-alcoholic beverages. Sip water in small amounts and in frequent intervals. You can also opt for sports drinks. Try to stay away from coffee and dairy products while you are still recovering.

IV. Since a dry environment may worsen the condition, consider using a cool air humidifier. Alternatively, you can also sit in a steam-filled bathroom.

V. Smoking and uvulitis are related as already discussed. So, if you smoke often, give the habit a rest; even better, shun it.

VI. Avoid foods that are hard to swallow, tart and acidic, spicy or highly seasoned, and foods that are too hot or cold.

VII. Drinking a glass of lukewarm water with honey mixed in it also offers some relief.

VIII. If you are a habitual snorer, then consider sleeping on one side with your head slightly elevated.

Medical Treatment

If a swollen uvula causes any breathing difficulty, or makes it hard for you to swallow food or drinks, then consider seeing your doctor. Depending on what has caused the condition, your doctor may prescribe the following medicines:

Antibiotics: Required for treating severe bacterial infections, which may have caused uvulitis.
• Steroids: Required for reducing redness, pain, and swelling (of uvulitis) caused by an allergic reaction.
Antihistamines: Mainly administered to reduce itching due to a swollen uvula.

How Does a Swollen Uvula Feel

I. When your uvula swells up, you may feel a gagging or choking sensation. This is because, as the uvula swells up (about 3-5 times its actual size), it elongates and may lay on top of the tongue.

II. If you have uvulitis, then swallowing food or fluid may be painful.

III. The uvula may be red and so may be the surrounding areas of the throat.

IV. You may drool excessively.

V. Depending on the cause, symptoms like fever, headache, sore throat, swollen tonsils, vomiting, and cough may also present themselves.

Uvulitis is not a serious illness; however, it may precede other problems in the body. So, it is better to consult an otolaryngologist, who can diagnose the underlying cause of the problem and prescribe medication accordingly. The doctor may also suggest some changes in your diet and lifestyle.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional.