Friday, January 13, 2006

Whovula?

Q: I found your site to be very interesting. I am trying to learn about the uvula, which you do have some information regarding. My question, however, is about possible infections of the uvula, or growth/swelling of the uvula. Is the uvula ever removed for any medical reason?

A: The uvula is that little dangly-downie-thingie (sorry for all the medical jargon) in the back of your throat. It is part of your soft palate. Its only function, as far as I can tell, is to allow you to snort like a pig when reading books to your toddlers, and to pronounce certain Yiddish words (like kopf tukhas) without sounding like a Southern Baptist.

Yes, the uvula can become infected, can develop abnormal growths, and can also harbor cancer. Yes, we sometimes remove it. Let's take this one step at a time.

Quincke's edema is a particular type of swelling of the uvula known as "angioneurotic edema." It can occur as a result of minor injury, food allergy, or even a mild sore throat. The uvula can swell to twice its normal size -- sometimes larger.

The uvula can be infected with papillomavirus (a mucosal wart), yeast (Candidiasis or thrush), or any bacterial or viral infection involving the tonsils or throat.

A warty growth on the uvula can represent a viral papilloma, a squamous papilloma, or even cancer. In most cases, we biopsy these lesions.

Back in training, I saw two cases of uvular thrush in which a beet-red uvula was encased in a white sleeve (the yeast itself). Nasty.

Back in training, I also saw two patients who had burned their uvulas (uvulae?) by sucking to hard on a crack pipe. The red hot screen got pulled through the pipe and smacked 'em in the uvula. Easy diagnosis: nothing else will give you a grid-shaped burn.

We most commonly remove the uvula as part of an operation for obstructive sleep apnea. The operation is called a UPPP, which stands for -- you ready for this? -- uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. The uvula is also removed if it is involved with cancer.

Incidentally, ENT can lay claim to some of the longest words in the English language. My favorite:

pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism

30 letters, if I can still count.

D.

26 Comments:

At 8:25 AM, Blogger Invisible Lizard said...

A few years ago, I had a little problem which led me to look up the name for that dangly thing, which is where I first learned of the "uvula."

I had a cold and was having trouble sleeping. My sinuses were hurting and I couldn't breathe through my nose and I ended up sleeping all night with my mouth open.

In the morning I had a very sore throat, and I felt like I was gagging on something. I looked in a mirror and that uvula thingy was at least twice its normal size, maybe more, and very red. Gross.

Completely freaked me out. I stayed home and drank hot tea all day and gargled salt water (a remedy my mother used to make us do when we were kids any time we had a sore throat, which I hated, but I would have resorted to anything to get that awful lump out of the back of my mouth).

It went down by the end of the day and by the next was back to normal. Now, any time I have a cold, I always take some sort of decongestive so I don't end up sleeping with my mouth open all night.

 
At 3:00 PM, Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Nothing drives people crazier than a swollen uvula. It's maddening. Gagging has to be one of the most unpleasant sensations out there.

 
At 5:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When can one start taking food after the uvula has been removed? What sort of clear food is avaiable besides juice,jello,puddings (?)
When can clear broth be taken??? Thank you...."uvula-less"

 
At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am 29 years old and generally very healthy, but my uvula is really jelly like and not is almost like it's dead skin. My throat is not overly sore, but does have some sores on the uvula. What is going on?

 
At 5:24 PM, Blogger Stickypad said...

My uvula is squishy or jello-like too and this appeared out of no where. I never used to even notice my uvual until about 4 months ago. What can be causing this? When should I become concerned? It looks normal, just very "squishy".

 
At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had swollen uvula a few times, but today was really bad, it was touching and looked like it was dipping past my tongue. And it looks big and "jellylike" and slightly split at the bottom like a snake tongue. I still don't know what is the problem.

 
At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had swollen uvula a few times, but today was really bad, it was touching and looked like it was dipping past my tongue. And it looks big and "jellylike" and slightly split at the bottom like a snake tongue. I still don't know what is the problem. and when i was brushing my tongue it sort of folded on my tongue and made me gag and it felt like i was choking.

 
At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a wart can i just get the wart removed and i get soar throats all thd time.

 
At 2:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have had the same problem with gagging and choking feeling , doctor said it was caused by an alergic reaction and gave me a heavy dose of steroids

 
At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have what looks like a blister on my uvula. It has been there for quite a while. Lately, I seem to have a mild sore throught and it hurts a little to swallow.
What could it be?

 
At 4:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i get a SORE THROAT every time i take a ten inch cock in my mouth is this normal???????????

Confused, 13

 
At 4:20 AM, Anonymous loves to get deep throated said...

Yes.. harsh deep throating can give you swollen tonsils sometimes.. Always have a smooth deep throating session ;-)

 
At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wat does it mean when its recurring?
ive had a swollen uvula 3 times this year. it makes my nose blocked and my mouth dry.
could this be a sign of something worst?

 
At 4:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, there is a nasty comment on your otherwise very useful page on uvulas... i think you should maybe think about removing it...

 
At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering if anyone could help me. A few days ago my husband and I were laying in bed when he told me he was having trouble swallowing. I looked in the back of his throat and saw that his tonsils were so large they were touching each other and his uvula had two growths on it. He said it didn't hurt but it freaked me out so I took him to the emergency room. They gave tested him for strep and mono which were both negative so they gave him an emergency appointment with a specialist. The specialist said it was a two seperate viral infections, put him on a steroid called medrol dose pack and scheduled an appointment to remove the growths. The thing is the more I look at it the worst it appears to me. Does anyone know how serious this really is? The doctor said the growths were very unlikely to be cancer but his tonsils and uvula look really bad.

 
At 10:20 AM, Blogger Angel said...

Glad I found this (and comments). I have a cold, sore throat, and woke up with a really swollen uvula, can't talk or I gag myself LOL

Thanks for the info!

 
At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yesterday I had a fever and i was really cold. When I woke up this morning I feel much better, but the only thing that's wrong now is that my uvula is swollen, and i can't even swallow right, talk right, and eat right. I feel like i wanna gag at all times, what can i do to get rid of this? HELO

 
At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, last night i went to a wild party and woke up gagging on my uvula. Its really freaky. I did get totally wasted, which is normal, but i did two things that i hadn't done before: I smoked a cigar and smoked some salvia. Is there something in the cigar or salvia that did it or did i just burn myself? Keep in mind i was drunk when i did both.

 
At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, its me, the wild party guy again. I just remembered that while i was sleeping, someone poured Tabasco sauce in my mouth. I woke up confused thinking my mouth and throat were on fire. I did everything i could but they didn't have milk at the party so i had to drink a frappuccino. I think that that was what happened cuz my throat didn't feel bad between the time that i smoked and the time i went to bed. So maybe that was it, someone please respond to let me know cuz this is freaking me out

 
At 9:39 AM, Anonymous Heather said...

For all of you wondering out there, the best thing to do is A) Calm down B) Gargle with salt water C) drink some OJ and D) find some sherbet, Sorbet, Icecream (or something along those lines) and eat it. Within a day your uvula should be back to normal size. Also, if you have to go out, make sure to take cough drops with you, and drink lots of water...

 
At 4:35 AM, Blogger meggo said...

i have the same problem, i've been running high fevers( and they give me mouth ulcers)
i tried to gargle saltwater, but it burnt the inside of my mouth (because of the ulcers)
and i cant swallow anything without wanting to scream. whats wrong with me :x
i refuse to go to the doctor, because all she will say is "oh you just have a sinus infection"
and hospitals are totally out of the question also.

 
At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't feel so alone now. I too have a swollen uvula. I can't talk or I gag and vomit. My fiance took me to the doctor today, and he told the doctor I had a swollen vulva by accident...No joke. That's been the only funny thing about this swollen uvula thing!

 
At 6:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had a small growth beside my uvula for years now. It was a slow growth. This week I have felt like I wasn't swallowing everything, like something was stuck back there. I finally grabbed my mirror to see what the problem was. That growth has doubled in size in 2 months and is the same size as my uvula. It was smoothe looking and now looks chunky and white. What is this?

 
At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo Infection

 
At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of u should go to an ear,nose, and throat dr. Tonsils that r huge or rotten need to come out. Ur uvula can also b removed if necessary. For papilloma the dr. Will remove it from ur uvula. This is an outpatient procedure.

 
At 5:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is hell. i cant open my mouth without gagging and choking. i feel no pain, but i made the mistake of not slleping for a day, and when i tried to sleep, i woke up with this S.O.B! my great aunt just died, and i cant go to the funeral today drooling all over, gagging, and sounding like mickey-fricking-mouse! i dont care about pain, i just want the gaging to stop. i cant even drink water!!!!!! im ready to just tear it out

 

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