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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Elongated uvula

09/03/2008

Question:

Dear Dr. Wilson,

I have an elongated uvula, much longer than a normal one. It interferes with my sleep, and makes me think that something is stuck in my throat.

I do not have any food allergies that I know of, and I do not smoke, drink, or do drugs.

I visited an ENT a couple of weeks ago, and was told that in addition to an elongated uvula, the back of my tongue is wider than normal, and my soft palate is lower than normal.

The three abnormalities combine to make my sleep very fitful, and I am usually exhausted when I wake up. Also, I have been told that my snoring has become unbearable.

I looked at my uvula about an hour ago, and I cannot see the bottom end of it, because it descends too far down my throat.

I have already an appointment set up to see my own doctor at home, and to visit a center for sleep medicine.

Even as I am having this looked at, what are your thoughts regarding a solution to this?

Answer:

A sleep study would be very appropriate, and if you do have sleep apnea, specific therapy can be addressed.

If you do not have any of the conditions that can cause the uvula to swell or elongate, you should consider surgery to remove the uvula. This could be performed in the office under local anesthesia. You will experience significant discomfort in the throat when you swallow probably for about 2-3 weeks. There are effective pain medications available to make the healing phase tolerable. You should consult an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor for a consultation about this problem.

For more information:

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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