Uvulitis is inflammation of the uvula. This is the small tongue-shaped tissue that hangs from the top of the back part of the mouth. Uvulitis is usually associated with inflammation of other mouth parts, such as the palate, tonsils, or throat (pharynx).
Uvulitis is mainly caused by an infection with streptococcus bacteria. Other causes are:
- An injury to the back of the throat
- An allergic reaction from pollen, dust, pet dander, or foods such as peanuts or eggs
- Inhaling or swallowing certain chemicals
Injury can occur due to:
- Endoscopy - test that involves inserting a tube through the mouth into the esophagus to view the lining of the esophagus and stomach
- Surgery such as tonsil removal
- Damage due to acid reflux
Symptoms may include any of the following:
- Feeling like something is in your throat
- Choking or gagging
- Pain while swallowing
- Excessive saliva
- Decreased or no appetite
Exams and Tests
Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and look in your mouth to view the uvula and throat.
Tests that may done include:
- Throat swab to identify any germs that are causing your uvulitis
- Blood tests
- Allergy tests
Uvulitis may get better on its own without medicines. Depending on the cause, you may prescribed:
- Antibiotics to treat an infection
- Steroids to reduce swelling of the uvula
- Antihistamines to treat an allergic reaction
Your provider may suggest you do the following at home to ease your symptoms:
- Get lots of rest
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Gargle with warm salt water to reduce swelling
- Take over the counter pain medicine
- Use throat lozenges or a throat spray to help with the pain
- Don't smoke and avoid secondhand smoke, both of which can irritate your throat
If the swelling does not go away with medicines, your provider may advise surgery. Surgery is done to remove a part of uvula.
Uvulitis usually resolves in 1 to 2 days either on its own or with treatment.
If swelling of uvula is severe and goes untreated, it may cause choking and restrict your breathing.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your provider if:
- You are unable to eat properly
- Your symptoms are not getting better
- You have a fever
- Your symptoms return after treatment
If you are choking and having trouble breathing, call 911 or go to the emergency room right away. There, the provider may insert a breathing tube to open your airway to help you breathe.
If you test positive for an allergy, avoid the allergen in future. An allergen is a substance that can cause an allergic reaction.
Riviello RJ. Otolaryngologic procedures. In: Roberts JR, Custalow CB, Thomsen TW, eds. Roberts & Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 63.
Wald ER. Uvulitis. In: Cherry JD, Harrison GJ, Kaplan SL, Steinbach WJ, Hotez PJ, eds. Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 10.
Mouth anatomy - illustration
The mouth is the origination of the digestive tract. The teeth and salivary glands aid in breaking down food for digestion. The tonsils aid against infections.
Review Date: 8/12/2019
Reviewed By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.