Last night was a case of one drink too many and you have woken up with a dry sore throat this morning. The dryness just refuses to go away despite glasses of water and you are shocked to see your swollen uvula in the mirror. If all that sounds familiar, you are probably suffering from a case of swollen uvula.
What is Swollen Uvula?
To understand Swollen Uvula, you need to know what does the uvula do in the human body. Open your mouth and look into the mirror. That small fleshy thing in the back of your throat is the uvula. It appears as a red mass hanging from the soft palate above the base of the tongue. It is a very important part of the mouth that screens everything that enters through our throat. It alone is responsible for foods to enter into our stomach rather than our nasal cavity. It also acts as a barrier against bacteria and other microorganisms from entering and affecting our digestive system. When there is an inflammation of this uvula, there is a case of swollen uvula.
The term “uvula” means “large grape” and comes from the Latin word “uva” meaning “grape”. The uvula is called so because it looks like a large grape from outside. If you are familiar with the uvula anatomy, you must be aware that it looks like a large grape indeed.
Swollen Uvula is also known as Uvulitis. It is often misspelt as ‘swollen uvala’, ‘uvula swollen’ or ‘swolen uvula’.
Swollen Uvula Symptoms
Swollen Uvula is marked by a number of symptoms. Most of these are not externally visible. These are experienced by the sufferer. An experienced medical professional can understand its presence through diagnosis.
Dry and Sore Throat
In patients with Swollen Uvula sore throat is the most common symptom. The sufferer normally feels dryness in the throat that refuses to go away in spite of drinking water. Dry throat can cause much discomfort in the patient. Sore throat and swollen uvula are common in case of viral infections, such as those caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Strep throat infections, Tonsillitis, allergic reactions to dust or dirt, excessive smoking and heavy alcohol consumption are some other causes of throat soreness and uvular swelling.
Inflammation of Uvula
As aforementioned, there is an inflammation in the uvula which can be seen from the outside.
Picture 1 – Swollen Uvula
Source – revolutionhealth
Difficulty in Swallowing
Swallowing foods can be very difficult for the affected person. It can even cause pain in the throat as in the case of swollen tonsils.
The sufferer may experience mild to severe pain in the throat region. This may happen even when he or she is not swallowing anything.
The person may also suffer from headaches due to this condition.
In many cases, there may also be an inflammation in the tonsil which can also lead to pain.
Picture 2 – Swollen Uvula
Source – wordpress
Tautness in Throat
The patient may also suffer from tightness and irritation in the throat.
Swelling in the uvula also affects the voice quality of the sufferer. The person finds it difficult to modulate his or her voice.
The patient feels a discomfort and irritation in the upper throat area.
Pus in the Throat
In many cases, pus is accumulated in the throat of the sufferer.
Desire to Cough
The irritation and pus in the throat often makes the sufferer feel the urge to cough.
The sore throat often makes the person feel like vomiting.
The person also suffers from high body temperatures in many cases.
Swollen Uvula Causes
The condition is brought about by a number of factors. Take a look at some of the common causes of swollen uvula.
Dryness in the Mouth
Dehydration in the mouth is one of the main causes of the condition. Too much alcohol consumption can be a cause for drying up of the mouth. In many cases of Swollen Uvula alcohol as well as cigarettes has been identified as top causes.
Viral infection is held as another prime reason. If a person is infected by the Epstein-Barr virus, it may cause soreness of throat and swelling of the uvula.
Drinking hot beverages can also lead to a swollen epiglottis.
The human throat is prone to bacterial infection, particularly of the Streptococcus variety. When the Streptococcus bacteria infect the throat, you get a condition called Strep Throat. This may bring about a swelling in the uvula.
A bad case of tonsillitis may also lead to this condition.
Inflammation of the Tissues
Sometimes, foreign objects like chicken bones or fish bones may get stuck in the throat. It may lead to an inflammation of the tissues and result in swollen uvula.
Side Effects of Surgery
In some cases, surgical operations of the throat such as adenoidectomy and tonsillectomy can produce some side effects which may be a cause of this condition. After surgical procedures such as Tonsillectomy, swollen uvula and painful symptoms are imminent. Aches are felt in the throat as well as the ears. In approximately 2% of cases, post-operative bleeding may also occur along with inflammation of uvula. Pain may be controlled with medicines. Inflammation can be reduced by drinking lots of fluids, avoiding acidic and carbonated drinks and not participating in strenuous activities.
Diseases affecting the throat such as diphtheria, chicken pox, measles, viral pharyngitis and even common cold can also result in an inflammation of the uvula.
Swollen Uvula Diagnosis
Expert medical professionals normally diagnose the condition after a physical observation of the patient. As the disorder is mainly internal, the sufferer is asked about the experienced symptoms and his or her physical condition. The doctor may also carry out some physical tests to find out the cause of the disease as well as rule the possibility of other disorders affecting the person.
Treatment for Swollen Uvula
Mild cases of swelling in the Uvula can be treated at home. However, cases of severe inflammation need to be treated by doctors.
Swollen Uvula Remedies at Home
You can try these steps at home to cure mild cases of uvular swelling :
- Add a little salt into a small bowl of lukewarm water. Use this to gargle for sometime. It has been found as an effective way of reducing pain and swelling in the affected region.
- Add ½ tsp turmeric into a glass filled with water. Drop one or two ice cubes into it and wait for 4-5 minutes. Then drink the solution. It works to cure common cold.
- Chew 2-3 garlic cloves every day. This reduces the swelling in the uvula very fast.
- Drink about 10-12 glasses a day. This will reduce the pain and inflammation in the uvula.
- Consuming honey every day can also help the uvula recover faster.
Swollen Uvula Treatment by Doctors
The condition is generally treated by Otolaryngology specialists. These doctors specialize in curing ear, nose and throat diseases. The condition is mainly treated with medications. If the patient suffers from recurring Uvulitis, he or she may be administered an Adrenaline injection. Patients are also advised to carry this injection with them so that they can inject themselves whenever the condition arises.
Doctors may also suggest some lifestyle modifications such as changes in drinks and diets.
If you are feeling soreness in the back of throat Swollen Uvula may be the cause. Though it is not a fatal condition or a serious disease in itself, it may be a precursor to more complicated disorders. So get medical help as soon as possible and get treated. A timely treatment will help you prevent a lot of future complications.
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Written by anirudh
on November 22nd, 2010. The article was last updated on July 2nd, 2013