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Swollen Uvula – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Remedies

A swollen uvula can arise due to various reasons and it is an important aspect to look at when examining for bacteria and microorganisms that enter the respiratory and digestive tracts. People with inflamed uvula go through a great deal of pain and find it extremely hard to swallow food and modulate their voices. Some people suffer from an inflamed uvula only once in their whole lifetime, while it is a recurring problem for others.

Although a swollen uvula resolves on its own, treatment is still necessary especially for people whose inflamed uvula does not get better within 8 to 12 hours and is associated with fever and breathing difficulty. The treatment depends on the root cause of the inflammation.

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What is an uvula?

The uvula refers to the small mass hanging at the back part of the soft palate. The name came from the Latin word “uva”, meaning grape. This grape-shaped mass is composed of connective tissues, muscular fibers and racemose glands which play a vital role in the expression of speech and sounds as well as in swallowing food. The uvula works with the soft palate when swallowing food by moving and closing the nasopharnyx to keep the food from entering the nasal cavity. In addition, the uvula also serves as the protective shield against bacteria and microorganisms that enter the body through the gastrointestinal tract. A swollen uvula brings a great deal of discomfort especially when swallowing food.

What does a swollen uvula indicate?

An inflamed uvula is an indication that something is irritating the small fleshy mass. Various factors can make this happen and most of the time, the surrounding structures get inflamed too such as the throat and mouth. A swollen uvula is 3 to 5 times larger than its normal size.

The uvula may become swollen due to variety of reasons, and some of these are:

  • Dry throat

This is the most common reason for having a swollen uvula which could be caused by sleeping with the mouth open, dehydration, or living in a place that has an extremely dry climate. Air pollution and smoking can cause an inflamed uvula as well.

  • Infections

The uvula gets swollen when it is infected either by viruses or bacteria.

  • Consuming hot foods and beverages

The tissues in the uvula will sometimes get burned when consuming hot foods and beverages. Alcohol abuse and canker sores can also result in the inflammation of the uvula.

  • Acid reflux

Acid reflux can irritate the uvula making it swell.

  • Severe allergic reactions

In some cases, an inflamed uvula could be a sign of a severe allergic reaction to food, medication or certain substances. Prompt medical attention is highly needed as the patient may die from it.

This is not a comprehensive list of the reasons why the uvula gets swollen, but any of these can instigate various symptoms which could help doctors come up with a definitive diagnosis.

Swollen Uvula symptoms

Whatever the reason behind a swollen uvula, sufferers will feel the following symptoms.

  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Dysphagia or swallowing difficulties
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Throat pain
  • Hoarse voice
  • Tight and irritated throat
  • Desire to cough and vomit

Swollen Uvula Treatment

Although in most cases, an inflamed uvula clears by itself or is treatable at home; but some people need professional medical attention. This is extremely important when the inflammation is severe and comes with pain that lasts for over 1 to 2 days. The patient should consult an Otolaryngology, a doctor that specializes in throat, nose and ear problems. He or she will conduct a thorough evaluation to determine the root cause of the inflammation and prescribe appropriate medications. A swollen uvula is often treated with antibiotics, antiviral medications, pain killers and throat sprays. Recurrent bouts of inflamed uvula are treated with Adrenalin shots.

Swollen Uvula Remedies

There are countless natural home remedies for swollen uvula, and some of these are:

  • Drinking plenty of water

An inflamed uvula caused by dehydration is best treated by drinking plenty of water, about 10 to 12 glasses daily.

  • Chewing garlic cloves daily

Two to three cloves of garlic daily is effective in reducing the inflammation of the uvula as well as in lowering blood pressure if the patient has hypertension.

  • Cold water and ice cream

These also help in reducing the swelling of the uvula but should be avoided by patients suffering from common colds.

  • Turmeric solution

Mixing half a teaspoon of turmeric to one glass of water is effective not only in treating a swollen uvula but common colds as well.

  • Tea

Tea made from basil leaves is also helpful in treating an inflamed uvula.

  • Honey

Honey speeds up the healing process of the swelling.

A swollen uvula is relatively common and could be treated at home. However, recurrent episodes of could be an indication of an underlying medical condition which requires further evaluation and appropriate treatment.

 

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