The uvula is one of the most frequently forgotten body parts. Unless it is swollen or in pain, you most likely do not think about your uvula ever. This fleshy portion is elongated and small. It is placed toward the back of the soft palate in your mouth. If you look toward the back of your throat, the hanging piece of flesh that you see is the uvula.
Sometimes, you may develop a swollen uvula. This condition is known as uvulitis. Normally, your uvula is supposed to prevent microorganisms from entering your digestive tract and making you sick. You should never remove the uvula unless a doctor says that you need to for a condition like cancer. If you do have a swollen uvula, you may want to go to a doctor to be checked out and find out the exact cause. Inflammation of your uvula is a fairly rare condition, and there are a few reasons why it may occur.
The Conditions That Can Cause a Swollen Uvula
Your uvula may become swollen if the tissues around it swell. It is unlikely that the uvula became inflamed on its own; more likely, the tissues and structures near it swelled as well.
1. A Genetic Condition
There are certain genetic problems that can cause the uvula to become enlarged. An elongated uvula is heredity and can cause the uvula to be too long and slightly troublesome. Meanwhile, conditions like a palate or cleft lip can affect the uvula. In both of these condition,s the uvula may be surgically removed. You can go to your doctor to be diagnosed and to figure out what the best course of treatment is for.
2. Hereditary Angioneurotic Edema
A hereditary angioneurotic edema (HANE) is a medical condition that occurs to a gene mutation. It is extremely rare, so it is probably not the reason why you are experiencing a swollen uvula. If this is the cause, however, different parts of the body like the uvula may swell. Most people who have this disease begin experiencing the symptoms during their childhood.
3. Allergic Reactions
If you have an allergy, you may experience swelling in your mouth, throat and uvula. This is an indication that you are experiencing an anaphylactic reaction, which necessitates immediate, emergency care to prevent worse symptoms. If you are experiencing an allergic reaction, you will most likely be given a shot of epinephrine to stop this reaction.
One common cause of uvula swelling is an injury. While most people find it difficult to injure their uvula, it can happen. The most frequent damage is caused by consuming food that is too hot. Medical processes like inserting breathing tubes can also cause trauma that leads to a swollen uvula.
5. Infections and Illnesses
When you have an infection or another type of illness, it is normal for it to cause swelling and other side effects. Many bacterial and viral infections like strep throat, epiglottis, mononucleosis and tonsillitis can cause inflammation and swelling. Since some of these conditions can cause dangerous side effects like problems breathing, it is important to go to the doctor if you think that you may have an infection.
6. Other Causes
A dry mouth is another reason why you may have uvulitis. It could irritate the inside of the mouth and the uvula. Likewise, drinking hot or acidic drinks can end up inflaming your throat or uvula. If dry mouth is the problem, drink more liquids so that you do not become dehydrated. If hot liquids are the problem, then stop drinking hot liquids that are too hot and give your uvula a chance to heal.
The most obvious symptom of uvulitis is a swollen uvula. You may also have a sore throat, throat tightness or irritation. Many patients experience pain near the throat area or swollen tonsils. Likewise, common symptoms reported by patients include a hoarse voice, breathing problems, pain and headaches. It is important to go to the doctor if you experience pus formation because it indicates an infection. Breathing problems, a high fever and other severe symptoms are also a sign that you should go to a doctor.
Treatment Options for a Swollen Uvula
Treating your swollen uvula depends entirely on the cause. If it is due to a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Your doctor may also prescribe antihistamines to reduce swelling or itchiness around your swollen uvula. In addition, steroids may be prescribed if your uvulitis was a result of an allergic reaction that caused swelling, pain or redness.
Other than professional medical care, the are also some at-home remedies that you can use. If dehydration was the cause, drink plenty of water. Orange juice and other fruit juices can be used if you find it difficult to consume enough water on a daily basis. Ice chips can also be held in your mouth because the cold can help numb the pain and swelling.
To help reduce inflammation, bacteria and pain, gargle lukewarm salt water in the back of your throat. You can consume additional honey because of its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and throat-soothing properties.
Two or three garlic cloves can be consumed on a daily basis to help reduce irritation and pain. Another home remedy is to bled in ½ tablespoon of turmeric into a glass water. Afterward, add three ice cubes and drink the mixture about five minutes later.
Should You Go to the Doctor?
While it is not always dangerous, a swollen uvula can be an indication of a serious illness. As a rule, you should always go to the doctor if you are not sure about the cause of your illness. It is always better to be overly cautious than not cautious enough. You should definitely go to the doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Choking or grunting
- Pus or blood that comes from your uvula because this could indicate a rupture
- Problems swallowing
- Severe pain in your uvula
- Feeling uneasy or confused because of a lack of oxygen
- High fever that indicates an infection