Anatomy and Function of the Uvula

The uvula is the elongated hanging structure visible at the back of the throat. It is sometimes called the hanging ball in the throat and is suspended above the tongue.

Anatomy

The roof of the mouth is divided into two sections – the hard palate at the front and the soft palate at the back. The uvula hangs from the middle of the soft palate and lies a short distance above the back of the tongue.

It is composed of mucus membranes, connective tissue and muscle and it is flexible to ensure that it can fulfil its functions.

Sometimes, the uvula may be naturally elongated, short (stump) or divided into two lobes (bifid or cleft uvula).

Functions

The uvula has two main functions :

  1. It blocks the passage into the nasal cavity when swallowing. This ensures that foods or fluids do not enter the nasal passages.
  2. It plays a role in articulation – assisting with the speech

The uvula also plays a part in snoring although this is not an intended function. It vibrates vigorously in those that snore and is partly responsible for the rough sound during snoring.

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  • ednah

    hi i just want to know what normally happens the fetus of a mother having thyroid disease aslo how can premature rupture of membrane in pregnancy predispose the fetus to hiv if a mother is hiv positive

  • Hi Ednah. You don’t mention whether you are talking about hypo- (underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Hypothyroidism is more common in women so we will assume you are referring to it. Hypothyroidism in pregnancy can increase the risk of anemia, low birth weight, miscarriage, preeclampsia and so on. If your thyroid problem is properly managed with medication and your gynecologist is aware of it then it may not be as much of a risk. Premature rupture of membrane (PROM) is where the aminiotic sac ruptures earlier than it should in pregnancy. Normally this happens just before labor. PROM can be a greater risk for children born to HIV positive women since it increases the likelihood of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Either way there is still some risk during the course of pregnancy and ARVs would be prescribed to lower the risk to the child. You should speak to your OBGYN about your concerns if you are HIV positive as there are many precautions that need to be taken in such instances.

  • ednah

    thanx now i knw another question is hw can a decay of the tooth bring about cardiac disease and also hw can what is important about bedrest in women with peuperal psychosis

  • opinions are subjective

    The infection goes into the bloodstream which affects the heart? I’ve heard tooth decay or and abscess can also go into the sinus cavity and then into the brain. It’s why they use such strong antibiotics and put antibiotics in a root canal before it’s sealed. Some people with blood clotting conditions or other physical issues usual take antibiotics prior to and after even teeth cleaning. Once an infection is in the body it can harm so many other organs. You raise an important point about the dangers of tooth decay. IMHO

  • wallace

    My Uvula is full of fluid and is hanging down more. My doctor gave me an anti-biotic for this before and I have a call in to him now. I take thyroid medicine and could this be my cause?

  • Hi Wallace. An enlarged uvula, which is usually due to swelling, is often related to infections. However, it would be worth checking if your thyroid hormone levels are within the normal range with the current prescription you are taking. While uncommon, a swollen uvula may sometimes arise with an underactive thyroid gland. Your doctor will be able to advise you accordingly and you may want to follow up with an endocrinologist.