My Experience With Uvulitis (Not Fun)

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.

CC BY-SA 3.0 - 1luckygamble

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 swollen uvula.

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 - A 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.

What is angiodema?

Angiodema is swelling in the deep layers of skin. It often shows up on the face. It is often harmless and can resolve without medical intervention.

Angiodema can affect the soft tissues in your mouth: the uvula, throat, and tongue. Severe swelling may completely block the airway. This leads to unconsciousness and death without proper medical intervention.

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 is 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 10 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.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Have you had a swollen uvula, also known as uvulitis, more than once?

  • I have had uvulitis more than once.
  • I have only had it one time.
  • I have never had uvulits and I hope I never do!
See results without voting

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!


The contents of this page are based on my own experience and medical advice I have received. You are responsible for yourself and your health care. If you are unsure what to do, always consult a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional.

Stop and say hello. I love comments :)

My Guestbook - Have you had uvulitis? 35 comments

anonymous 4 years ago

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

LouiseKirkpatrick profile image

LouiseKirkpatrick 4 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom

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

Mariajomith profile image

Mariajomith 4 years ago from pa

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

victoriuh profile image

victoriuh 4 years ago Author

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

miaponzo 4 years ago

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 profile image

victoriuh 4 years ago Author

@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 :)

anonymous 4 years ago

Get health insurance.

victoriuh profile image

victoriuh 4 years ago Author

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

CCGAL profile image

CCGAL 4 years ago

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 profile image

victoriuh 4 years ago Author

@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!

cmadden 4 years ago

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 profile image

victoriuh 4 years ago Author

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

anonymous 4 years ago

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 profile image

victoriuh 4 years ago Author

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

OhMe profile image

OhMe 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

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

victoriuh profile image

victoriuh 4 years ago Author

@OhMe: Thank you for visiting!

ernieplotter profile image

ernieplotter 4 years ago

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

anonymous 4 years ago

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

victoriuh profile image

victoriuh 4 years ago Author

@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 3 years ago

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 profile image

victoriuh 3 years ago Author

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

squidoopets profile image

squidoopets 3 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

Yep. Just posted as an anonymous guest. Blessings!

victoriuh profile image

victoriuh 3 years ago Author

@squidoopets: Thank you so much!

anonymous 3 years ago

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 profile image

victoriuh 3 years ago Author

@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.

PromptWriter profile image

PromptWriter 3 years ago from Eastern Ontario

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.

BrandonCase profile image

BrandonCase 3 years ago

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!

BarbsSpot 3 years ago

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

victoriuh profile image

victoriuh 3 years ago Author

@BarbsSpot: Thank you!

Sophia 20 months ago

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.

Tosha momof3 17 months ago

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?

Anon 3 months ago

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

rew 2 months ago

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

Sixpets 2 months ago

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.

Vicki Harvey 5 weeks ago

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.

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