Uvulitis is inflammation of your uvula, the fleshy, teardrop-shaped piece of tissue in the back of your throat. The condition can be caused by infection, allergies or trauma. Depending on the cause, uvulitis treatments may include antibiotics, antihistamines or, in some cases, surgery.
Uvulitis is another word for a swollen uvula. Your uvula is that little fleshy piece of tissue that hangs from the roof of your mouth.
Your uvula serves a purpose. It secretes saliva to keep your mouth lubricated. It also prevents food and liquids from entering the space behind your nose. But if your uvula becomes swollen, it can feel pretty irritating. The good news is that uvulitis is usually temporary.
Since uvulitis is commonly associated with other conditions — such as infection, allergies or trauma — and treating the underlying cause usually eases your uvulitis symptoms.
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Uvulitis is a common condition. It often develops when other areas of your mouth are inflamed, such as your throat, tonsils or the roof of your mouth.
Most of the time, an inflamed uvula isn’t serious and usually goes away in a couple of days. But if swelling becomes severe, uvulitis could interfere with breathing and swallowing.
No, uvulitis isn’t a sexually transmitted disease or infection (STD or STI). But it can be a possible symptom of certain STDs, like syphilis and gonorrhea.
Some people with COVID-19 may develop an inflamed or swollen uvula. But it’s not a common symptom.
Symptoms can vary depending on the underlying condition. Possible uvulitis symptoms include:
There are several factors that can lead to uvulitis. Some of the most common swollen uvula causes include:
Uvulitis itself isn’t contagious. But the viruses and bacteria that cause it can be spread from person to person.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a contagious bacterial or viral infection, be sure to wash your hands frequently and stay home if you have a fever.
Your healthcare provider will perform a physical examination and ask you about your symptoms. They may also request certain tests to see what caused the inflammation. These tests may include:
The quickest way to get rid of uvulitis is to treat the underlying condition. For example, if your uvula swells as a result of allergies, then antihistamines may reduce your symptoms. If uvulitis is a complication of tonsillitis, then your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics to treat your condition. If you have severe inflammation, then corticosteroids can reduce swelling and help you feel better fast.
If conservative treatments don’t work, or if you have chronic uvulitis, you may need surgical uvula removal. During this procedure, your surgeon removes part or all of your uvula.
There are several things you can do at home to relieve your uvulitis symptoms:
Often, uvulitis goes away on its own in a couple of days. But if your symptoms are severe — or if they linger for more than a few days — you should schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.
Recovery times can vary for each person. But most people notice an improvement two to three days after beginning treatment.
Uvulitis is a symptom of many different conditions, so you can’t prevent it altogether. However, there are things you can do to reduce your risk:
Your healthcare provider will examine you to determine what caused your uvula to swell. Then, they’ll treat the underlying problem. In most cases, this involves taking antibiotics, antivirals or corticosteroids.
If nonsurgical treatments don’t work, or if you have severe or chronic uvulitis, you might need uvula removal. During this procedure, your surgeon removes part or all of your uvula to help ease your symptoms.
Most of the time, uvulitis goes away in a few days. The issue may resolve on its own, or you may need treatment.
You should schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider if:
If you’ve recently been treated for uvulitis and your symptoms return, let your healthcare provider know. They can help determine next steps.
If you’re choking, or you feel like you can’t breathe, call 911 or head to your nearest emergency room.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Uvulitis usually isn’t dangerous, and you’ll likely feel better in a couple of days. But it can be scary if your swollen uvula becomes severe. You might feel like there’s something stuck in your throat or you may have difficulty breathing. Uvulitis is almost always a symptom of an underlying issue, like an infection or allergic reaction. Treating the underlying issue is the best way to ease your uvulitis symptoms.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/06/2022.
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