The uvula is a tiny organ in oral cavity attached to the soft palate. It is made of connective tissue and has significant role in articulation of human voice. Apart from that the uvula is engaged in the process of swallowing and together with the soft palate prevents entering of the food into the nasal cavity. Swelling of the uvula occurs in different medical condition. It generally develops as a consequence of inflammation called uvulitis.
What Are Causes of Enlarged Uvula?
Enlarged uvula develops as a consequence of swelling of the organ, to be more precise its mucous membrane. In case of severe swelling one may feel a choking or gagging sensation. The uvula is most commonly enlarged in people suffering from tonsillitis, common cold and allergies. The enlargement may also occur in case of severe dehydration. In such case lack of water in the body results in increased soaking of saliva by the uvula and its subsequent swelling. Allergic reaction to different allergens in general leads to inflammation and swelling of mucous membrane of nasal cavity, oral cavity etc. Swelling of mucous membrane of the uvula is only one way the body responds to exposure to the specific allergen.
Another potential cause of swelling of the uvula is consuming of hot or cold food or drinks. The problem may also occur due to bacterial or viral infections and exposure to certain irritants or environmental pollutants. And finally, the uvula may be irritated if one keeps breathing through the open mouth. This usually happens during sleep to people who snore.
Treatment for Enlarged Uvula
Enlarged uvula is not a medical condition per se. Instead, it represents a sign of many other medical conditions. Therefore, treatment of swelling of the uvula depends on the underlying illness that has led to swelling in the first place.
In case the person is dehydrated the uvula will return to its original size once the person starts to take sufficient amount of water and other fluids. If there is a problem with oral rehydration one may be administered fluids intravenously. Infections caused by bacteria or viruses are treated with specific medications and symptomatic treatment. Once the infection is brought under control the uvula returns to its original size.
In order to prevent swelling of the uvula people should avoid consuming hot or cold drinks and food. Furthermore, people who are allergic to a certain allergen should try to avoid it as much as possible or in case they develop an allergic reaction they are prescribed with appropriate drugs.