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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Little thing hanging in back of throat

10/17/2007

Question:

the little piece of skin hanging in the back of my throat is swollen and looks red and its a little hard to swallow

Answer:

I'm not sure what your question is.  The little piece of skin hanging in the back of your throat is called the uvula.  It is involved in closing off the back of your nose when you swallow so that food and liquids do not reflux up into your nose when you swallow.

The uvula will get swollen sometimes because of allergies and sometimes as part of a generalized sore throat from a viral or bacterial infection.  The uvula can be traumatized by foreign objects like toothbrushes, forks, spoons, etc. 

The swelling of the uvula can give you symptoms where it feels like you have something stuck in your throat.  Swelling in this location can also interfere with swallowing.  Gargling salt water or using over-the-counter allergy medication can be effective in certain instances.  I recommend that you see your primary care doctor for a thorough examination and appropriate treatment.

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Response by:

Keith M Wilson, MD Keith M Wilson, MD
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Head and Neck Division
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati