The uvula (its name is palatine uvula) is the fleshy organ that hangs at the back of the throat. Most people simply refer to it as “the dangly thing at the back of your throat.” Although it doesn’t happen very often, some people can suffer from a swollen uvula. This condition is called uvulitis and can affect both children and adults.
In this article, I’m going to look at natural home remedies for swollen uvula (uvulitis).
What Is Your Uvula And What Does It Do?
The uvula is made up of glandular tissue, muscle tissue, and canals which excrete saliva.
Scientists and doctors still haven’t discovered exactly why we have a uvula and what its function in the body is. Some theories say that it is part of a person’s gag reflex or that it is there to keep the throat lubricated.1
Dr. Yoram Finkelstein in the journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery wrote that only humans have a uvula and suggested that it could have a role to play in speech and it differentiates man from other mammals.2 Still others have suggested that it helps us swallow food or filters out bacteria from getting into the digestive system.
It also seems that the uvula could be connected with snoring. This is because removing the uvula (called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) is sometimes recommended for chronic snoring. However, Dr. Anne Poinier from WebMD says that this may not completely cure snoring.3
Symptoms of a Swollen Uvula (Uvulitis)
A swollen uvula is not a common disorder and there can be a number of factors which can cause it. Usually, uvulitis is accompanied by inflammation of surrounding areas.
One of the first symptoms of uvulitis is feeling that there is something stuck in the back of your throat. Because the uvula is swollen, you will probably have more difficulty swallowing and the sound of your voice may even be affected.
Depending on the cause of the swelling, you may also experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Problems breathing
- Sore throat
- Excess saliva
While most cases of swollen uvula don’t require immediate medical attention, if the symptoms are severe, contact your doctor.
Causes of Swollen Uvula (Uvulitis)
Let’s have a look at the causes of a swollen uvula and what you can do to treat it naturally.
A viral or bacterial infection is one of the most common reasons for swollen uvula.
These infections could be from strep throat, tonsillitis, or mononucleosis (often called the kissing disease). These conditions cause inflammation in the throat and in some cases, cause uvulitis.
If you suffer from strep throat, you can find specific information in my article about the best natural remedies for strep throat. If you suffer from tonsillitis, you can find more information in my article about the best home remedies for tonsillitis.
A rare and dangerous condition which can cause the uvula to swell is epiglottitis. This mainly affects children and can severely restrict breathing.
If the uvula and back of the throat swells very rapidly, this could be a sign of an allergic reaction to food or insect stings. This is called an anaphylactic reaction and it is very important to quickly seek emergency medical help. Dr. E. Alcoceba, an allergy specialist, recommends that people who experience swelling in the mouth and uvula get tested for allergies.4
If you suffer from allergies, you may want to try these top 5 essential oils for allergies or this probiotics that protect against food allergies.
Smoking and drinking too much alcohol can cause irritation in the mouth and lead to uvulitis.
In an article about smoking and respiratory symptoms, uvulitis was mentioned as a possible condition.5 It has also been observed in people who smoke marijuana.6 However, other irritants, for example, breathing in chemicals, can also cause the uvula to swell. If you are a smoker, you may want to try these 5 natural ways to quit smoking (scientifically proven).
The uvula can also become irritated if the mouth is very dry. This can happen when a person only breathes through his mouth.
Sometimes, heavy snoring can irritate the uvula and cause it to become enlarged during the night.7 If you suffer from snoring, you may want to try these 7 ways to stop snoring.
Sometimes the ‘after effects’ of surgery can cause the uvula to swell for a time. Dr. David Kiener on Realself says that general anesthesia can cause irritation and a swollen uvula. There could also be a trauma from the endotracheal tube that keeps the airway open during surgery.8
Hereditary angioedema (HANE) is a rare condition which causes swelling of the face and airways and can also cause abdominal cramps. It can also cause the uvula to swell. Usually, if a person has HANE he/she will also a have many other symptoms, not just a swollen uvula.9
Home remedies for Swollen Uvula (Uvulitis)
There have been no scientific studies into how home remedies can help to reduce the size of a swollen uvula. However, because most of the time the swelling is caused by inflammation, you can use natural remedies to reduce inflammation.
First of all, if uvulitis is caused by an irritant, like alcohol or smoking, then it is best to quit smoking and drink less. This will help you enjoy a healthier and better quality of life and will boost your immune system.
Gargle with Salt Water
It is a well-known fact that salt kills off bacteria. The New York Times reported that Dr. Philip T. Hagen (from the Mayo Clinic) advised that gargling helps to loosen thick mucus and kill off allergens and bacteria from the throat.10
To cure your swollen uvula with salt water, you can mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a cup containing 8 oz. warm water. Gargle the liquid then spit out.11 To make this even more potent, you can add a teaspoon of turmeric. Turmeric contains curcumin which has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.12
Turmeric and Ginger for Anti-inflammation
You can also combine the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric and ginger to help reduce swelling in the uvula. A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that ginger is an effective compound for its anti-inflammatory properties in respiratory infections.13
To use turmeric and ginger for uvulitis, this is what you should do:
- For every cup of water use 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger root and fresh turmeric root. Or, you can use 1/3 teaspoon of ground dried powder.
- Bring the water to boil in a small pan. Add the ginger and turmeric and let it gently simmer for 10 minutes. (If you are using ground powder, then boil it for 5 minutes).
- Then add a teaspoon of coconut oil (this helps your body to absorb the turmeric better).
- Allow to cool (you can also add a few ice cubes to reduce swelling).
- Drink the mixture and let it stay in your mouth for about 15 seconds.
Garlic & Honey
Garlic contains allicin which has powerful antimicrobial properties and is beneficial to help treat a swollen uvula.14 Honey also has antimicrobial properties and acts as an anti-inflammatory to help soothe your sore throat.15
The best way to take the garlic is raw. Take a few garlic cloves and mince or crush them and leave to stand for 15 minutes to allow the allicin to form. Of course, garlic is very pungent, so, mix it with some honey. You can also try this golden honey mixture for a strong natural antibiotic.
If you think that your swollen uvula is because of being dehydrated, then make sure and drink plenty of water. This can also help to flush toxins out of your body
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