Uvulitis

The uvula is the tissue that hangs in the back of the throat. Uvulitis is inflammation of the uvula. Inflammation happens when the body responds to an injury, allergic reaction, infection or illness. Symptoms of inflammation may include redness, irritation, itching, swelling, or burning. Uvulitis is more common in children than adults.

Symptoms of uvulitis include:

  • Sore throat

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Painful swallowing

  • Trouble breathing

Possible causes of uvulitis include:

  • Throat infection

  • Inhaling or swallowing chemicals 

  • Inhaling hot air or steam

  • Allergic reaction to something eaten, touched or breathed in

In rare cases, uvulitis can be caused by a condition called angioedema. Angioendema can be:

  • Hereditary (runs in the family)

  • A side effect of a class of drugs used for high blood pressure called ACE inhibitors

  • Life-threatening. It can lead to swelling of the air passage in the mouth or throat. Severe swelling can block your breathing and cause death. Watch for the earliest signs of this illness. Call 911 if the swelling involves the face, mouth, or throat areas.

To help find the cause of the uvulitis, imaging tests may be done. If infection is suspected, swabs from the throat or samples of blood may be tested. Questions may be asked about an individual’s vaccination history to be sure it is up to date. A cause for uvulitis is not always found.

Treatment depends on the cause and the severity of the symptoms.

Home care

Medicines

The doctor may prescribe antibiotics for an infection. For an allergic reaction or angioedema, medicines called steroids or antihistamines may be given. Follow instructions when using any medicine.

General care

To care for the condition at home:

  • Rest until the symptoms go away.

  • If medicines were prescribed, be sure they are taken as directed. They should be taken until they are gone or the healthcare provider says to stop them.

  • If you were told that your angioedema was from a medicine that you are taking, you must stop taking this medicine. Contact your doctor for a prescription for a different medicine. Advise future medical providers that you are allergic to this medicine.

  • Contact your healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter medicines.

  • Drink fluids. Pain when swallowing may make it harder to drink and lead to dehydration. To prevent this, sip fluids throughout the day. Children can be given frozen juice bars, milk, or other cold liquids. Watch for the signs of dehydration listed below.

  • Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work or school. Ask your child’s healthcare provider when your child can return to school or daycare.

Follow-up care

Follow up with the healthcare provider, or as directed. You may be referred to an allergy doctor or an ear, nose, or throat (ENT) doctor for further evaluation and treatment. Make these visits as soon as possible.

When to seek medical advice

Call the healthcare provider right away for any of the following:

  • Symptoms not going away or getting worse

  • Symptoms of dehydration, including dark urine, dry mouth, cracked lips, dizziness, or sunken eyes

  • A child acting very sick or not improving

  • Fever over 100.4°F (38°C) in adults, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Fever in children (see Fever and children, below)

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Drooling or trouble swallowing

  • Trouble breathing

  • Trouble talking

  • Swollen tongue, lips, face, or throat. You can tell this if your child's voice changes.

  • Jerking and loss of consciousness; seizure

  • Lack of response, extreme drowsiness, or trouble waking up

  • Fainting

  • Confusion

  • Child being unresponsive

  • Skin or lips look blue, purple, or gray

Fever and children

Always use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Never use a mercury thermometer.

For infants and toddlers, be sure to use a rectal thermometer correctly. A rectal thermometer may accidentally poke a hole in (perforate) the rectum. It may also pass on germs from the stool. Always follow the product maker’s directions for proper use. If you don’t feel comfortable taking a rectal temperature, use another method. When you talk to your child’s healthcare provider, tell him or her which method you used to take your child’s temperature.

Here are guidelines for fever temperature. Ear temperatures aren’t accurate before 6 months of age. Don’t take an oral temperature until your child is at least 4 years old.

Infant under 3 months old:

  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead (temporal artery) temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 99°F (37.2°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child age 3 to 36 months:

  • Rectal, forehead (temporal artery), or ear temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child of any age:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under 2 years old. Or a fever that lasts for 3 days in a child 2 years or older.

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© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.