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My Experience With Uvulitis (Not Fun)

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Uvulitis Is Not Fun

The uvula is the bit of tissue that hangs down in the back of your throat. A swollen uvula is very uncomfortable and can cause anxiety. Even if it is not blocking the airway significantly, it may feel like it is, or that it is about to swell more.

The swollen uvula elongates and hangs down behind the tongue, or lays on top of it. The width can swell, as well. It is often accompanied by a sore throat. It can be caused by a mechanical trauma, such as an airway intubation. Other possible causes are environmental issues like allergies, or an allergic reaction to a medicine.

Read on to learn more about uvulitis and my personal experience with this condition.

I had a major internal struggle about posting a photo of a swollen uvula. I didn't think to take one of my own and besides, they are very disgusting. If you are dying to see more swollen uvula photos, Google will happily supply you with plenty if you search for them.

Swollen Uvula—My Personal Experience

Last year my friend posted about her swollen uvula on Facebook. I posted back, "Shouldn't you be talking to your gynecologist about that?" I am funny like that. It was easy to be funny since I wasn't the one dealing with it. That changed today.

I woke up this morning with a very sore throat and a funny feeling in my mouth. I stuck my toothbrush in my mouth to check out the back of my throat. Imagine my surprise when I couldn't see it at all! This had a negative effect on the actual pain I could feel. Feeling like your airway is closing up can do that!

I did what most people would do these days: I consulted "Dr. Google." I learned that while this condition is often benign, since it is a form of angiodema, the swelling can increase unexpectedly or other parts of your neck and face can start to swell.

So, angiodema doesn't sound like very much fun, does it? I decided to go to urgent care. Like many people, I do not have health insurance, so it was not a decision I took lightly. Finally my husband convinced me by saying, "It's your AIRWAY!" So, I went.

I am going to tell you exactly how my appointment went, what my doctor said, what she prescribed, and what self-care steps were recommended. I am not suggesting you should do these things or that you will have the same experience at your doctor. Part of my experience and treatment recommendations were due to a sore/strep throat and partly to the swollen uvula. (Whew, disclaimer over.)

When I got to urgent care I had to go through the registration process, vitals check, and the mandatory long wait in the exam room. When the doctor came she asked me when it started, how it felt, if it had happened before, if I had been sick recently, etc. Standard stuff. She checked my ears, lungs, nose, and of course, my throat. She really couldn't see much because it was so swollen. She said that swollen uvulas are pretty common. She also said they were often caused by strep throat. She swabbed my throat for a rapid strep test (major gag) and said she would be back.

When she came back she said the rapid strep test was negative. She was going to send it for the 24 hour test, but decided against it. I suspect she chose that since I have no insurance. She said she planned to treat me the same way she would for a positive strep test anyway. I am glad I don't have to pay for lab work.

She prescribed me a ten day course of amoxicillin and a steroid shot in the hip. My preschooler said, "That is almost your butt." Thanks, baby. The doctor also recommend gargling with warm salt water and taking ibuprofen for the pain and swelling.

The nurse came in and gave me my shot. The needle didn't really hurt. A few minutes later it started to burn, though. Twelve hours later the uvula swelling is vastly improved. It was worth a little burn.

I had a bit of an internal struggle about taking the amoxicillin. I do not take antibiotics at the drop of the hat and I like to have proof that it is needed. I decided to go ahead just in case. Strep can lead to some horrible problems if not treated and since I don't have insurance I could not see myself choosing to come back to the doctor again soon.

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The doctor also said that if my voice started to sound muffled, I started drooling, I had difficulty swallowing, or felt like I couldn't breathe then it was a medical emergency and I should be seen in the ER.

Causes of Swollen Uvula—Swollen Uvula is Called Uvulitis

These are in no particular order. Some items are direct causes of uvulitis and some are causes of any type of angiodema. The cause of uvulitis cannot always be pinpointed, even by a doctor. That is one of the most frustrating things to me!

  • Allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Allergic reaction to something inhaled, touched, imbibed, or eaten.
  • Mechanical trauma, such as an airway intubation.
  • Excessive smoking or drinking alcohol.
  • A physical problem like cancer or an ulcer of the uvula.
  • Acid reflux of stomach contents.
  • A viral or bacterial infection including HIB, strep, oral herpes, and candida (yeast infection).

Uvulitis Self-Care Tips

  • Eat cool or cold foods that slide right down such as milkshakes, ice cream, and smoothies. Chewing ice can help too, but be cautious of damaging your teeth.
  • If your throat is sore, avoid citrus foods or anything else acidic. Also, avoid scratchy type foods such as chips that might further irritate your swollen uvula when swallowed.
  • If you are in pain take ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Ibuprofen will not only help with pain, but also the swelling. Follow the manufacturer's directions for both medications.
  • Drink water. Uvulitis can be caused by dehydration. If you have been drinking alcohol heavily, or you've been ill, it is very likely you are dehydrated. If you aren't sure if you might be dehydrated, go ahead and drink some water. It won't hurt. Sip small amounts of water at frequent intervals. You can also use sports drinks. Do not chug water or drink large amounts quickly.
  • If you smoke, give your body a break. This is the perfect time to quit, but you should at least cut back at this time. It will help your body recover.
  • Gargle with warm salt water. Salt water is good for sore throats or mouth infections and swollen uvula is no different. Personally I just dump some salt into water without measuring it, stir it up, and then gargle. It isn't necessary to follow a recipe, but a common one is to mix 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of salt in 8 oz of warm water.
  • If you get uvulitis more than once, and haven't been evaluated by a doctor, then make an appointment. Since possible causes of uvulitis can be caused by serious conditions, like herpes or cancer, it is important to receive proper care.

Uvulitis Poll

From the look of the search terms people use to find this site, a lot of people get uvulitis repeatedly. I am adding a little poll to see if I can get some data on that.

Uvulitis Video Made By A Doctor

I found this neat video on uvulitis today. It actually contains a lot of the information I was given at the emergency room and that is covered in this page. It has been put together really well. Check it out!

Stop and say hello. I love comments :)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

My Guestbook - Have you had uvulitis?

Anonymous on December 23, 2017:

Thanks a million, the post really helped

Mary Topete on July 23, 2017:

I was feeling like I had something stuck in the back of my throat BUT when when I looked in the mirror and saw the little bell (now I know it's called Uvula) longer than usual!! I got an anxiety attack and felt like I was going to pass out!! I started to feel nauseous, dizzy, my hands started to tingle and my forehead began to sweat!! I called my husband to take me to Urgent Care but he didn't have the ringer on! So I decided to go online and I found your post after I googled "Can the little bell that hangs in the back of your through fall down" I was so relieved to find out that I wasn't the only one with this problem and that it is actually swollen! So I did the salt water gargles and I also took my allergy meds because I was having an allergic reaction but I didn't know that it affected the Uvula. I also had some shake for the coolness to soothe my Uvula. Thanks again for your informative article!!

Jen on July 18, 2017:

Today is my first experience with uvulitis. I have mono and apparently this is one of the lovely symptoms associated. I've been doing all kinds of googling today. Also had panic attack because my breathing is restricted. This is awful. i'm drinking very cold water to keep the swelling down. Taking ibuprofen and sudafed as well. Finally stopped panicking. Thanks for your post. i'm going to try a steroid nasal spray when i get home to see if that helps. This is scary.

IHateUvulitis on June 25, 2017:

I had this illness at the worst possible time conceivable. I was already in a horrible state before I got this: recovering from major surgery, projectile vomiting, having horrible reactions to the narcotics used to control pain, coughing/vomiting or fast movements could displace metal bar in my chest (I can't even fathom how bad that would hurt) and this illness just topped it all off. I couldn't eat because of how swollen and infected it was and lost nearly 20 lbs due to not being able to eat for a week. It also made me think I was going to die when I started vomiting because it was gagging me while I was throwing up. Worst illness I have ever gotten in my entire life.

Dawn on June 23, 2017:

Just wanted to thank you for your story..I hope it helps a lot of people. I just wanted to add that I get uvulatitus or used to get it a lot because I have sleep apnea (undiagnosed at the time) and would often wake up to a swollen uvula and tonsils. I thought it was an allergic reaction to something I had eaten and so for years I opted out of foods I felt were the culprit. Testing later in life showed I was wrong about many of them. My point is that the constant irritation to the uvula and the tonsils because of my snoring would swell the back of my throat so bad sometimes I was certain my throat would swell shut. I would get up start drinking benadryl from the bottle and eating ice. Both worked great and I never needed an antibiotic for any of my episodes. I never knew what it was called until my son in law told me. And it made a lot of sense. I'm now on a cpap but if my power goes out from storm or accident and I have to sleep without it, I try to sit up as much as possible while sleeping and it seems to help a lot. Hope this helps out others as well. Thanks again for your article.

Tenjay on June 18, 2017:

Thank you so much for sharing your story , really helpful , and I really appreciated

TD on May 21, 2017:

Had it this morning, it was pretty scary all the descriptions here are spot on. For me it felt like I was snoring all night and my throat was dry. I drank some water and it didn't go away. Looked in the mirror and kind of freaked out.

I went to the Ugent care and the doctor said Gargle and suck on some honey. It worked, either that or it drained.

Arnie on May 16, 2017:

My Uvula looks like the picture but no white spots. I'm 57 and this is the first time that this ever happened to me. I'm on antibiotics but I don't think that they are working. Trying all of the home remedies also. Like ice chips ,honey , salt water. Has anybody else gotten a pinched nerve in their neck that made their shoulder hurt also. ?

Yesenia on December 30, 2016:

Omg I'm so thankful for this article, I woke up with my what I know know a swollen uvula and I've never had this happen before I was freaking out as to if I should go to the doctor it isn't blocking my airway as much just it's so uncomfortable for me to swallow.

Mark Nandor on December 18, 2016:

I get uvulitis once or twice a month. Two days ago my uvula was about a third of the size of my tongue - light pink like you would expect a "skin balloon" (or something that was stretched and swollen). It's now shrunken down to about what the picture on your article looks like. I expect it to be normal by tomorrow or so - here's hoping. Doctors can't say why I get it, though for a while we thought maybe it was from acid reflux irritating it at night, and it seemed to get better after starting famatodine twice a day... but now it's definitely back to where it had been, if it had ever been better to begin with. Could it be allergies? I guess, although I take an antihistimine twice a day, the acid reducer twice a day, and since it is chronic and recurring, it probably isn't an infection. I'm at the point now of requesting a uvulectomy, if such a thing exists. There's little point in continuing this nonsense for longer....

MN on December 18, 2016:

I get uvulitis once or twice a month. Two days ago my uvula was about a third of the size of my tongue - light pink like you would expect a "skin balloon" (or something that was stretched and swollen). It's now shrunken down to about what the picture on your article looks like. I expect it to be normal by tomorrow or so - here's hoping. Doctors can't say why I get it, though for a while we thought maybe it was from acid reflux irritating it at night, and it seemed to get better after starting famatodine twice a day... but now it's definitely back to where it had been, if it had ever been better to begin with. Could it be allergies? I guess, although I take an antihistimine twice a day, the acid reducer twice a day, and since it is chronic and recurring, it probably isn't an infection. I'm at the point now of requesting a uvulectomy, if such a thing exists. There's little point in continuing this nonsense for longer....

Pete on December 17, 2016:

I was just diagnosed with this this morning. Woke up around after a day or so a snotty nose and thought my throat was swelling shut; freaked me right out. I decided to go ahead to urgent care only to find out that it's considered an ER until noon on Saturday 's (really?? Just a way for them to make more money!!). Oh well, a steroid shot, throat X-rays and a few hundred dollars later the swelling started going down. I've had sinus and ear infections throughout my life, but never anything as scary as this. Thanks for sharing your story and glad to know I'm not the only one to have gone through this. Hope and pray I never have to go through this again!

Francisco on November 26, 2016:

It's very helpful but I wanted to ask how long did it last?

Bruce on November 08, 2016:

Hello...your comments on uvulitis were very helpful....when the uvula rests on my tongue...I constantly feel that I have to swallow. it feels like there is something there...feels like mucous...but us the uvula. Thanks

James on October 27, 2016:

I went through it twice last year, and apparently, got it once this year. Painful stuff.

Vicki Harvey on September 18, 2016:

I had a sore throat yesterday morning, I drank lots of water. But this morning at 5am I woke up and my uvala was swollen. I was scared. I called a friend of mine to take me up to the ER. When I got there after getting signed in. I was taken to a waiting room where I had to wait a full hour for the doctor to come in. When he did, I got a shot, and they hooked me up with the Heart Monitor. I did not come home til almost 10 am. They also tried feeding me breakfast, which I could not eat at all. Finally he released me and told me it was my high blood pressure meds that caused it. Well tomorrow I will go to the Clinic and see my doctor and see what she has to say.

Sixpets on August 23, 2016:

I haven't seen it anywhere but wonder if this could also be caused by excessive snoring? I think that is a possibility for me.

rew on August 08, 2016:

I've been getting this for the past 10 years on and off its 3:30 in the morning I can't sleep because my uvula is humongous I don't know what to do

Anon on July 27, 2016:

I read that herpes simplex can cause ulvulitis. Small blisters down your chin sure sound like herpes simplex....

Tosha momof3 on May 27, 2015:

Sunday morning I awoke with my whole throat swollen and my uvula completely inflamed. It hurt to swallow my own spit or even air. I couldn't open my mouth enough to even yawn. I graduated Friday and went out of town. Got back Monday still swollen and in pain but of course it was a holiday so I had to wait til Tuesday morning to go to my doctor. She did a strep test which was negative so she told me she was going to treat me for acute pharyngitis but she wasn't sure. All her culture test in her office were expired so couldn't get one. She gave me cleocin, steroids and Tylenol with codeine for the pain. Needless to say I wake up today which is Wednesday still with a sore throat but not near as swollen. Oh I forgot she also gave me a decodron and rocephin shot in her office. Anyway this morning when I awoke still hurting I found myself with my lower lip covered in tiny blisters that go all down to my chin. Can anyone help me with this. I'm 34 years old and this has never happened to me. What could it possibly be. She told me if the meds don't work in a couple days to come back and she should have up to date cultures I her office. Any ideas? Anyone?

Sophia on February 12, 2015:

I'm an 11 year old girl living in Ohio. I woke up and this happened to me! It hurt a little every time I swallowed but now it feels like its getting better. But I still feel scared and I'm DEFINITELY going to see my doctor.

victoriuh (author) on April 22, 2013:

@BarbsSpot: Thank you!

BarbsSpot on April 20, 2013:

@Lensmaster...Congratulations on your Purple Star for this informative Lens! Thumps up!

BrandonCase on March 26, 2013:

Wow! The image alone is distressing enough, I have a hard time imagining the anxiety of having your uvula swollen to such size!

Thanks for the information, I won't panic quite so much if it does happen to me in the future (although I'm sure it will still take the phrase 'a lump in your throat' to a whole new level!

Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on March 19, 2013:

Wow, I had never heard of such a thing. Seems like a few pills and a steroid shot would be worth the extra pain to heal it.

victoriuh (author) on February 06, 2013:

@anonymous: If it makes you feel any better I thought that was my epiglottis at first too, but it turns out that is further down in your throat. That is a medical emergency, but uvulitis usually isn't. It can be if the swelling gets worse, and other parts of your throat swells. I am glad you are following up with your PCP. I don't see why the ER couldn't give you steroids or something as long as you were there :( Sorry it was a bad experience. I hope you feel better soon.

anonymous on February 06, 2013:

So, I woke up at 3am feeling like I had a ball of mucus I couldn't swallow, looked in the mirror and to my surprise, found that my uvula was lying on my tongue and every time I tried to swallow it would go down my throat obstructing my airway (not fun feeling). Unfortunately, I could have used an anatamy lesson because I always thought it was called an epiglottis. I googled swollen epiglottis and it said this is a medical emergency which of course scared the crap out of me, so I threw my clothes on and drove to the er(ignoring the always wear clean underwear rule because I was so anxious I didn't even bother putting them on :) When I got there I told them that I think I have epiglottitis and lost all credibility when they told me is was my uvula. At that point all I felt was stupid and was not given much advise other than taking a cough drop. I'm glad I found this site because I feel more comforted now than when I went to the er. At least now I feel that my anxiety was warranted which was not a feeling I got from the doctors there. I will follow up with my PCP today.

victoriuh (author) on December 15, 2012:

@squidoopets: Thank you so much!

Darcie French from Abbotsford, BC on December 15, 2012:

Yep. Just posted as an anonymous guest. Blessings!

victoriuh (author) on November 16, 2012:

@anonymous: If you cannot breathe you should call an ambulance!

anonymous on November 16, 2012:

My left tonsil is swollen with white stiff on it & my uvula is basically a giant fat square in my mouth. I just woke up with it swollen althoughr it was slightly swollen last night. & I'm home alone (I'm 17) and now I'm freaking out after reading this. I can barely breathe already. I just hope my airway doesn't close completely while I'm home alone.

victoriuh (author) on September 21, 2012:

@anonymous: It could be. If you have problems with acid reflux it can cause the uvula to swell. If you have chronic heartburn you might want to see a doctor! Feel better.

anonymous on September 21, 2012:

this problem just woked me. i had this a couple of times now. could be something that eat before sleeping? pretty annoying.

ernieplotter on September 01, 2012:

It looks painful... hope I never get it!

victoriuh (author) on September 01, 2012:

@OhMe: Thank you for visiting!

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on September 01, 2012:

This was certainly an interesting read and I appreciate your sharing your story

victoriuh (author) on July 20, 2012:

@anonymous: It was new to me too! Thanks for visiting.

anonymous on July 20, 2012:

This is new to me. Sounds like it could develop into something quite serious. Thanks for taking the time to give us a heads-up.

victoriuh (author) on July 19, 2012:

@cmadden: No healthcare can be so stressful! Thanks for visiting.

cmadden on July 19, 2012:

I had strep a lot as a kid, but only once, many years ago, as an adult; as a military brat, at least we had health care (no dental, though).

victoriuh (author) on July 12, 2012:

@CCGAL: I know exactly what you mean. It happened to my dad and his heart was damaged. It kept him out of Vietnam, but it also ruined his dream of being a firefighter. Thanks for stopping by!

CCGAL on July 11, 2012:

I don't think I've ever had uvulitis, but I've had strep throat and acute pharyngitis, which probably could have become uvulitis if I hadn't sought medical attention as quickly as I did. This was fascinating, since it's something I'd never heard of before. I'm glad you opted for the doc-in-the-box despite lacking health insurance, because untreated strep can turn into rhumatic fever and damage your heart. I have a family member who learned that the hard way. Nicely done and thanks for sharing!

victoriuh (author) on July 11, 2012:

@anonymous: Good tip, Pete. Why didn't I think of that?

anonymous on July 11, 2012:

Get health insurance.

victoriuh (author) on July 05, 2012:

@miaponzo: I've never had sage and thyme tea, though I've had sage in other teas. Very strong flavor. Thanks for visiting and for the blessing :)

miaponzo on July 04, 2012:

You can use sage and thyme tea (just infuse it) and marshmallow leaf (if you can find it) and it will soothe this malady down a lot :) Blessed!

victoriuh (author) on July 04, 2012:

@Mariajomith: Poor guy! I hope he feels better soon.

ria on July 04, 2012:

my husband suffer from this, can't wait to share this with him. thanks

LouiseKirkpatrick from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom on March 17, 2012:

My husband had this once - very scary it was too!

anonymous on February 13, 2012:

swollen uvulas are the devil, but I do love the ice chips when I have one! My security word is "spot pig" love it!

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