The uvula is a fairly small orb of flesh that is attached to the back of the palate on the roof of the mouth. This muscle is used for speaking and helps with proper articulation, as well as preventing swallowed food from invading the nasal cavity. The uvula is basically a type of shield that blocks things that we swallow from going in the wrong way. This organ can become infected and can swell up, making swallowing and speaking difficult, uncomfortable and painful. There are many reasons why a uvula can become infected, as detailed below.
A swollen uvula can increase to up to 5 times larger than its original state. Common problems associated with an enlarged and/or infected uvula include allergic reactions flaring up, heartburn and common diseases such as colds. Smoking and consuming large amounts of alcohol can also aggravate swelling of the uvula. Dehydration can also be a contributing factor.
Alcohol and Uvula Swelling
There are many cases of excessive alcohol consumption leading to swelling of the uvula; this may even be caused by people consuming alcohol whilst unknowingly being slightly allergic. Alcohol also causes dehydration because it increases water loss through urination. The body must use more water to wash the toxins that are present in alcohol out of the body too, so the body suffers from lack of fluids. This can lead to not only swelling of the uvula, but also headaches, respiratory problems, sore throat and kidney and liver problems.
The first thing to remember is that a swollen uvula is not a fatal condition. It can be fairly easily remedied at home with proper treatment. If alcohol consumption is the cause of the swollen uvula, the obvious first step is to stop drinking for at least a week to allow the swelling to subside. As alcohol depletes the body of fluids, rehydrating oneself is very important. This will also help the body's natural healing processes work more efficiently.
Cold water, iced tea and ice cream can help alleviate the swelling of the uvula by cooling it down. Foods with large amounts of fat or carbohydrates should also be avoided. One should choose vegetables and fruits to boost the immune system by giving the body necessary vitamins. Gargling with salt water can also help.
Depending on the severity of the swelling and the level of discomfort or pain experienced, a doctor might be needed to diagnose the cause of the swelling and prescribe an appropriate treatment regime.