What is Uvulitis ?
When the uvula gets infected, swells up and becomes enlarged, the condition is called uvulitis. Uvula is an organ dangling at the back of the upper side of a human’s mouth. It is a cone-like projection made of connective tissue which has a number of glands and muscle fibers, which enable it to change in shape or move accordingly and secrete saliva when necessary. It is sometimes known as palatine uvula2. It is useful when it comes to articulation of speech and filtering out of bacteria that may cause breathing and digestive problems.1
- Infections (streptococcus influenza) and trauma causes uvulitis. Streptococcus influenza is bacteria that causes strep throatwhich almost always causes uvulitis1, 2, 3
- Pharyngitis – It is commonly known as sore throat and it causes uvulitis.
- Sleeping with the mouth open exposes the mouth to bacteria and causes it to dry. This makes the uvula susceptible to infections.
- Very hot food and very hot beverages, viral and other respiratory tract infections causes uvulitis on many occasions.
- Allergy/Hay Fever1, 2, 3 – When a person who has a problem with hay fever is exposed to an allergen and his body reacts to it, it causes the throat to swell and close which may sometimes lead to the affected person needing emergency care. This usually causes uvulitis.
- Hereditary/ Angioneurotic edema1, 2, 3 – This condition is a common occurrence in children. The people affected by this kind of edema lack a protein (C1 esterase inhibitor) which inhibits /prevents activation of a series of proteins causing the angioedema to swell. Swelling of the voice box is one of the accompanying effects of angioedema which causes uvulitis.
- Tonsillectomy/post-surgery recovery3 – patients who have undergone mouth surgery have a high likelihood of contracting uvulitis as a result of the anaesthesia.
- Sexually transmitted diseases, oral thrush and yeast infection3 – HIV, oral thrush and herpes may cause little bumps to appear on the throat and tongue. Yellowing of the tongue also occurs and sometimes it may become swollen and bleed. This causes uvulitis
- Acid reflux and vomiting – the stomach acidity causes and irritation of the uvula when vomiting or experiencing acid reflux which usually causes it to swell. A mild form of uvulitis.
- When common cold forces an individual to use his/her mouth as a breathing organ, the uvula is highly likely to get infected and swell up.
Figure 2: person suffering form uvulitis5
- Reddening and swelling of the uvula1, 2, 3, 4
- Appearance of bumps and white spots on the uvula
- Sore throat
- Formation of pus around the throat area
- Nasal regurgitation; a situation where food and other stomach refluxes may come out through the nose.
- The affected individual feels pain when swallowing and when severe it makes swallowing anything very difficult.
- Almost uncontrollable drooling
- Breathing becomes a struggle in some instances
- Sleep Apnea
- Tonsils(the throat swells up)
This is used to identify possible abnormalities in the shape and size of the uvula which is very useful in telling if the patient is suffering from uvulitis and the seriousness of the situation.1
The culture around the uvula is picked from the patient by a cotton swab for examination which helps in identifying germs and micro-organisms. It helps the physician to understand the nature of the uvulitis by identifying the cause of the problem.
Individuals suffering from uvulitis have a hard time swallowing anything, throat discomfort as if something dry is stuck on it. Sore throat is usually one if the main signs of uvulitis
This is carried out to check the level of concentration of the white blood cells in the body. High concentration of white blood cells signals a dire situation.
Uvulitis and epiglottis must be differentiated first during diagnosis. Epiglottis is more dangerous condition especially in children where it is a common occurrence and must be identified and treated first if it happens to be the problem. Otherwise it may lead to respiratory failure hence, death. Feverish children with swollen buckle cavity must be treated with utmost urgency by the physicians.
- Pills used to bring down allergies are used to reduce the severity of the inflammation of the uvula. It is an effective way of treating swollen uvula1, 2, 3
- In extreme cases, the uvula is surgically removed especially when it has become cancerous and the patient has to take good care after treatment to prevent any chance of an infection again.
- Antibiotics of different kinds are applied in treatment of uvulitis. In most cases uvulitis is caused by bacteria and these antibiotics help to kill these micro-organisms
- When uvula swells up because of an allergic reaction, steroids are administered to help reduce swelling and the redness caused by the allergic reaction.
The affected patient can use home remedies to keep the swelling from increasing.
- Ice cubes help keep the symptoms down. The low temperature reduces bacteria activity on the affected area causing the symptoms to subside
- Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and can help cure swollen uvula. Ginger is also a very good natural anti-inflammatory
- Herbs with anti-inflammatory properties and other kinds of foods in the same range are very effective in treating uvulitis
- Toxicity in the infected area can be reduced greatly by honey. It has been known to be a very effective remedy that’s easily accessible to patients suffering from swollen uvula. Herbal lozenges are also very helpful in bringing down the symptoms of uvulitis.
- Dehydration is the main cause of swollen uvula so good dietary practices which are balanced and getting enough fluids form fruit and water is really helpful in helping in the process of healing. Although this methods are not primary, they are nonetheless very helpful
When the symptoms increase in severity the patient must see the doctor at once. Symptoms like increased difficulty in swallowing and breathing, extreme pain around the uvula, breathing difficulties, and possible bleeding or bursting of the uvula.
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