When people snore, their throats often take a beating. One condition that brings a great deal of discomfort to snorers is a swollen uvula, or, uvulitis.
What Is The Uvula
The uvula is part of the soft palate of our mouths. It hangs in the back and is somewhat of a mystery in the fields of science and medicine since humans appear to be the only species that have them (with the exception of a few baboons who have small ones).
However, it has been identified as an important part of our anatomy. It helps prevent food from entering our nasal passages when we swallow and can produce saliva to help make swallowing easier. It also assists in our speech and protects us from swallowing germs and bacteria.
What Is Uvulitis?
Our bodies naturally respond to irritation with swelling and tenderness. Think of how a bee sting results in swelling and redness.
Similarly, the uvula can become swollen and sore resulting in uvulitis when individuals snore. According to experts, enlarged/inflamed uvulas are common among individuals who snore or suffer from sleep apnea.
Causes of uvulitis include:
- Allergic reactions
- Infectious diseases
- Adverse reactions
- Genetic diseases
- Intense snoring
Symptoms of uvulitis can include:
- Sore throat
- Pain or difficulty when swallowing
- Voice changes
- Difficulty breathing
How Does Snoring Affect The Uvula?
While the uvula is able to rotate around to serve its many purposes, each snore causes it to vibrate excessively which puts it under too much stress.
Additionally, open-mouth snorers are taking in air that exposes the uvula to dryness which further irritates it.
If you awaken with a sore throat, it could be that you have been snoring heavily through the night. Check out our best sleep positions to reduce snoring article.
If you do not have an infection, you can try to alleviate the discomfort of an inflamed uvula at home in a few different ways.
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty For Snoring
Some choose to undergo a surgical procedure called Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). When the UPPP is performed, part (or all) of the uvula is removed to make way for air to more easily flow through the airways, particularly if the patient is suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.
Other parts that may be removed include parts of the roof of the mouth or “excess throat tissue, tonsils, and adenoids, depending on the patient’s needs.
According to experts at Michigan University’s Health Department, the main reasons for this procedure are:
- Excess tissue in the nose, mouth, or throat that blocks the airway.
- Cannot or will not use a CPAP for sleep apnea
- No improvement after using CPAP.
- To avoid a tracheostomy (hole in the windpipe) to treat sleep apnea
Risks associated with this type of surgery include:
- Bleeding, infection, and swelling of the throat
- Severe sore throat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Acid reflux (rare)
- Scar tissue that may narrow the airway (very rare)
- Problems swallowing.
- Speech problems. (The surgery may result in a nasal quality to the voice).
- Changes in how food tastes.
- Sleepiness and periods of not breathing (apnea) related to the medicines that are used to relieve pain and help you sleep.
In one study, while the majority (73 percent) of patients who underwent this procedure were relatively pleased with the results, 23 percent reported long-term consequences such as:
- Mouth Dryness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling of a lump in the throat
- Speech disturbances
- Compulsive clearing of the throat
After several years, 27 percent of these patients said they would have not gotten the procedure done.
Drinking some water to moisten the mouth and throat can help with the dryness that comes from snoring. If it is too painful to swallow, gargling with warm water can help alleviate the discomfort.
Suck On A Lozenge
Throat lozenges can help lubricate the throat and bring relief to a swollen uvula.
The heat from a cup of tea can be soothing. Consider using calming teas like chamomile green tea which have natural healing properties. Adding honey increases the health benefits of a cup of tea.
Cold compresses help with swelling because it slows the blood flow to irritated sites. Likewise, chewing on ice chips can help reduce swelling in the uvula.
Unfortunately, for individuals with sleep apnea or who frequently snore, uvulitis is fairly common and the best way to treat it is to treat the underlying condition.If snoring is causing you to experience uvulitis, you can use an oral appliance such as VitalSleep to prevent the snoring and, thus, reduce the risk of uvulitis. Ready to try the VitalSleep risk free? Order yours today with a one-year warranty and 60-night money-back guarantee.