Uvula is the soft, fleshy projection, which hangs from the soft palate at the posterior end of the mouth. This small mass that is composed of connective tissues, racemose glands and a few muscle fibers, play an important role in articulation of sounds. Uvula moves along with the soft palate, while swallowing food and closes the nasal cavity, in order to prevent food particles from entering that cavity. Another uvula function is to filter bacteria and other microorganisms from entering the digestive tract. Uvulitis or a swelling of the uvula is a common problem.
What Does a Swollen Uvula Mean
It is nothing other than inflammation of the uvula. This condition can be caused by various reasons and an enlarged uvula may cause a choking sensation, as it touches the throat or the tongue. This condition can cause severe discomfort and pain to the affected person.
There are various factors, which can cause uvula swelling. They include common cold, viral or bacterial infection, certain allergies, acid reflux, exposure to extremely cold or hot foods and inflammation of other mouth parts (like palate and tonsils). Severe dehydration is also one of the common swollen uvula causes. Other reasons are snoring and excessive smoking or alcohol consumption. A canker sore or mouth ulcer near the uvula can also lead to inflammation of the organ. In some severe cases of uvula swelling, the organ may expand up to five times its normal size. The affected person may find it difficult to eat, talk and even breathe.
As mentioned earlier, uvula swelling is not a serious problem and is not life-threatening. In case you develop this condition, all you have to do is to calm down and try any of the swollen uvula home remedies. However, if the inflammation increases at an alarming rate, you will have to seek immediate medical condition.
The same applies to those who develop the condition as a result of some allergy or infection. Otherwise, a home remedy may be sufficient to counter the condition within 10 to 12 hours or a maximum of 24 hours. If you do not observe any relief after this time span, you will have to consult a otolaryngologist for correct diagnosis and treatment.
If there is no serious underlying cause, a swollen uvula will take around 10 to 24 hours to subside, without any treatment. You may adopt any of the home remedies to alleviate the symptoms. If there is no relief, then consult a doctor at the earliest and find out the underlying cause.
- If the condition is caused by dehydration, then, drink lots of fluids, mainly water. Orange juice is said to be beneficial for this purpose.
- A swollen uvula, along with a bacterial infection can be treated with salt water gargling. Otherwise drink cold water mixed with a pinch of turmeric (or a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar).
- If you do not have a cold, then, gulp down some ice cream or cold water to soothe the uvula. You may also chew or suck in some ice cubes, intermittently. This may reduce the pain and discomfort to some extent.
- Another swollen uvula remedy is tea made with holy basil leaves, which is good for healing the uvula. You can also use honey as a remedy for this condition. Have a teaspoon of honey at regular intervals. You may replace honey with aloe vera juice too.
- Raw garlic or fresh onion juice are also said to be beneficial.
- Over-the-counter medicines, like painkillers or throat sprays, may also help alleviate the symptoms.
- In case of recurrent uvulitis (especially, in those with allergies), doctors often suggest using 'EpiPen' (a medical device used to deliver a measured dose of epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline) to inject themselves whenever uvulitis begins.
The aforementioned remedies may prove helpful in alleviating the discomfort and pain caused by a swollen uvula. But if the condition persists for more than 24 hours, contact a doctor immediately. In case of recurrent uvulitis, you may take vitamin C to boost your immune system and prevent tonsillitis or any bacterial infection, which may lead to uvulitis.
It can also be prevented by sleeping on one side at an elevated level, by drinking lots of water and avoiding fried meat and poultry. Above all, it is always advisable to seek the opinion of a otolaryngologist, to rule out the possibility of any underlying condition, which could be the reason for the condition.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.