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Swollen Uvula: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Remedies

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“Uvula,” or little grape, refers to the grapelike bit of flesh hanging in the back of the throat behind the tongue. The uvula plays a major part in our speech and also helps filter out the bacteria that can otherwise enter the respiratory and digestive tract. Swollen uvula, medically known as uvulitis, is not a serious condition if treated in time.

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Causes of Swollen Uvula

A swollen uvula is not a serious condition and should disappear on its own in a few days. Possible causes of swollen uvula include:

  • Snoring frequently
  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Excessive smoking
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Common cold
  • Dehydration
  • Exposure to extreme climatic conditions, either hot or cold
  • Canker sores that develop near the uvula

Swollen Uvula Symptoms

A swollen uvula can be uncomfortable and irritate the throat. Symptoms include:

  • Inflamed (enlarged) uvula
  • Dry and sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Inflamed tonsils
  • Mild to severe pain in the throat
  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Hoarse voice
  • Pus in the throat
  • Irritated throat
  • A feeling of tautness
An enlarged uvula may touch the tongue

An enlarged uvula may touch the tongue

When a Swollen Uvula Touches the Tongue

A uvula that swells to the extent that it touches the throat and the tongue can trigger a gagging or choking-like sensation. This feeling can happen even though there is no foreign matter present inside the mouth and can make eating, talking, and even breathing difficult.

Home Remedies for Swollen Uvula

Here are some home remedies for swollen uvula.

  • If dehydration is the cause, drinking lots of water can speed the recovery process. At least 10 to 12 glasses a day is recommended. Drinking orange juice will also help hydrate the body.
  • A good mixture for treating uvulitis is half a teaspoon of turmeric mixed in a glass of water with two or three ice cubes. Allow to stand for four or five minutes before drinking.
  • Gargling is effective in treating a swollen uvula. A pinch of salt in lukewarm water relieves inflammation and pain.
  • Honey is known for its antibacterial properties and is useful for a swollen uvula. Regular consumption of honey has proved to be effective in treating uvulitis.
  • Chewing two or three cloves of garlic daily also provides relief from irritation and pain in the uvula.
  • Ice cream and cold water can also be consumed, but only when there is no cold infection accompanying the uvulitis
  • Drinking tea made with basil leaves will also help relieve a swollen uvula.

Medical Treatment of Swollen Uvula

Although you may be able to treat swollen uvula at home, consult a doctor if the uvulitis refuses to go away. An ENT surgeon should always be preferred over a general practitioner for consultation.

Several types of drugs may be prescribed.

  1. Antibiotics: If any kind of bacterial infection is causing the uvulitis, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. Follow the full course to completely cure the swollen uvula.
  2. Steroids: If the swollen uvula is caused by an allergic reaction, steroids can help decrease pain, redness, and swelling.
  3. Antihistamines: These can decrease the itching caused by a swollen uvula.
  4. Throat sprays and painkillers. These can provide relief from symptoms.

Preventing Swollen Uvula

Staying well hydrated helps keep uvulitis at bay. The best way to prevent swollen uvula is to avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol forces the body to use its fluids to flush toxins from the body, which leads to dehydration.

To prevent a recurrence of swollen uvula, strengthen your immune system. Vitamin C helps boost the immune system and thus can help prevent uvulitis.

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Comments

Emilye12 on January 18, 2016:

I woke this morning with a weird swollen uvula!!

I felt like that I'm trying to get flem out!!

I looked in the in the mirror it was swollen and a bit big!

I can hardly talk!!! When I swallow it feels like it's going down my throat!!!

Blake on December 31, 2015:

I feel asleep and I think I had my mouth open and i woke up with this what do I do it's really uncomfortable

San Antonio Texas on November 02, 2015:

Hello i am 19

I didnt know wat was wrong till i read this page these past few days i have felt like i needed to spit up but nothing ever comes up after i try for about 2 min i finally give up but the feeling of having to spit up is still there. it is vary annoying to feel like you got mucus stuck in your throat Nd nothing u do makes it go away. I have tried so much to clwar my throat that My throat is now vary sore ..now every time i try nd spit it up it hurts.. when i breath from my mouth it makes it even more dryer nd more painfull Just a litte while a go i gargled nd held a glass of warm water with honey limon nd salt . i still feel like there is something still there though so i keep trying to get it out still. But the pain aint as bad as it was . this has brought me down a little my throat is killing me I feel weak nd vary tired nd i got a big migraine Nd also running a little fever. I really hope this stops soon cuz it is a vary annoying nd painful feeling

Port Hope on September 10, 2015:

Hi Jak..well an inflamed uvula if it is due to a viral infection can last at least a week or more..if it is bacterial then with prescribed antibiotics you should feel better in 2-3 days. If the engorgement and swelling are due to any other

causes (example.. snoring, temperature changes etc) it can last a very long time without treatment..we are talking weeks or months..so the sooner you are seen by a Physician the sooner you will know what to expect..good luck..

Jak on September 09, 2015:

How long does this type of thing last

Amanda on June 26, 2015:

My uvula is currently sitting on my tongue. I don't feel like I'm choking, but it's making me want to swallow all the time, and that hurts like hell because the uvulitis is, in my case and probably for many people, caused by tonsillitis. I'm finding the best relief from squirting Vicks chloroseptic into my throat to numb the pain, and ibuprofen to reduce the swelling. I don't have a fever, so there's no point taking paracetamol. I don't see any white spots, so I'm pretty sure it's viral rather than bacterial, but damn, what a weird and horrible sensation!

paul on June 26, 2015:

Know i experiencing it right now

I thought that really serious thing

Then i read this article my worries were for naught

Jo on June 13, 2015:

This is the 2nd time my uvula swelled up. The 1st time it was massive and i had an allergic reaction to some wine but i had only 1 glass. This time i don't know why it swelled. I don't drink anymore n don't smoke. This time its not as big but I'm a little frightened to go to bed tonight incase it gets big again. Ive also had headache all day and even tho swelling has subsided its still feels like something is in the way. It has a area on my uvula that is quite red too. Should i go see a dr for antibotics. Last time hospital just sent me home.

neĺie on June 12, 2015:

I think my uvula Is swollen a lil I dnt feel any pain at all buh I feel like there's something in my throat its been on for three or four days now and I've tired antibiotics aspirin and gaggling with salt still feels strange and urrutaiting.. need help

Daniel on June 10, 2015:

just an update I commented 4 weeks ago about how my uvula was only swollen on one side and it constantly hurted as I tried to swallow even liquids. I went in and was told it was an early stage of strep throat and since I caught onto it early I was able to stop it without having to go through any extra side effects from a typical strep throat. I urge people to go in and check if something like that is going on!

BernadetteK on June 06, 2015:

I woke up yesterday with severe pain on passing urine and also passed a couple of blood clots. Luckily got an appointment to see my GP who gave me antibiotics. I'm also diabetic so wasn't surprised that my urine showed high sugar levels as well as blood and protein. Today I woke up choking and as I also suffer from occasional anaphylaxis I thought I was having another episode so got my Epipen ready. But when I looked at my throat in the mirror I found my uvula was quite swollen. It's very uncomfortable and I feel like I'm choking because it's falling back and covering my airway sometimes. I rarely drink alcohol, don't smoke, I'm in my 60's, and I've recently been taking a probiotic product called Actimel and I've noticed that every time I use that product I get some kind of infection so maybe it's doing more harm than good? Anyone else?

Sarah on June 05, 2015:

I been having this problem happen to my for years it happens off and on it lasts only a couple of hours then goes away i have sleep apnea and not have been using my cpap thing. But is there some way they can remove it it happens to me to offten its really annoying and the size varies each time it happens

Dr Rajesh (author) from India on January 09, 2015:

Hello Brandon @ are you still facing the issue ?

brandon on December 23, 2014:

What is the best way to cure swollen uvala

Jason on November 23, 2014:

The hott sauce idea really did work couldn't believe it few drops to the through the for hr gone thanx

bhuvnesh on November 02, 2014:

My uvula is touching my tongue it's very irritating. ...

I can't talk or swallow anything. ..

This article helps me a lot..

Gargling is best thing in it...just gargle with hot water adding some salt in it....

Dr Rajesh (author) from India on September 16, 2014:

hi @ Boozybloke are you okay now ?

Boozybloke on September 15, 2014:

I get this after a session on the booze goes after a couple days Ibuprofen and allergy tabs work for me . This only happens when done an all day session not just having a few lol

Dr Rajesh (author) from India on September 01, 2014:

@addy bajaj - glad that you liked it !

Matt on August 31, 2014:

I get a swollen uvula after drinking and smoking heavy no lie it happened three times I'll eat hot wing with a little ranch and it goes away in an hr lol after I eat. something about the hot sauce I guess deflates it

Michelle from New Jersey on August 09, 2014:

Just finished my 2 nod round of antibiotics and steroids. And it's swollen again! No pain at all I have cold symptoms and feel run down a bit. Don't know what it could be :( getting nervous

addy bajaj on August 05, 2014:

Thankyou so much :)

Got a great relief

Dee on July 05, 2014:

Thanks so much! This article really helped!

kayla on June 30, 2014:

Ugh mine has been swollen for a few days now I honestly just noticed it I thought my throat was swelling up or something

jim on June 30, 2014:

I'm 16 and I hope that that doesn't mean I have something else. I woke up at 3 choking thinking it was a huge luggy trying every thing to get it out, after choking and gaging for about two muintets I gave up and looked in the mirror to see my uvula a little bigger then the one in the picture. Its really pain full to drink and I don't think I'll be able to eat any time soon. This site gave me relief over it, just hoping it goes away soon :(

Ram on June 29, 2014:

OK it's my 3rd attack. Today. But no irritation feeling or any discomfort. But it's touching the tongue and swollen and got big.

Maybe I'll just go to the medical shop and buy the medicines same as last time.

Found out the reason behind this. Excessive alcohol consumption is the culprit. So watch it folks.

lisa on June 01, 2014:

Mine have been swollen for 2 days and I'm having headache and my skin pains as if I'm getting fever and it makes me feel as if I want to swollow and every time I do it hurts badly

:( on February 03, 2014:

Mine has bothered me for years :(

Bob W on August 13, 2013:

Had surgery to remove a tonsil cyst yesterday. Afterward the uvula seemed to at least double in size (length and girth) and is pressing on tongue. Makes you try to constantly clear your throat but it does no good.

craig on July 23, 2013:

i have the swolen uvula touching my toung it sucks makes u feel like u choking its very unfriendly