The uvula is the conic projection from the posterior edge of the middle of the soft palate, composed of connective tissue containing a number of mucous glands, and some muscular fibers (uvulae muscle). Its shape is somewhat similar to that of the grape.
Any function for Uvula
Very little. Consonants pronounced with the uvula are not found in English; however, languages such as Hebrew use uvular consonants to varying degrees. The uvular guttural fricative sound is a type of consonantal sound.
Snoring and sleep apnea
The uvula can also contribute to snoring during sleep; having an elongated uvula can cause vibrations which lead to the snoring. In some cases this can lead to sleep apnea, which may be treated by removal of the uvula.
The condition of nasal or hyper nasal speech is known as VPI or velopharyngeal insufficiency. It is caused by the improper closing of the uvula against the back of the throat. This allows a lot of extra air coming down the nose, making the speaker unable to utter certain consonants correctly. When you swallow food, the soft palate and uvula close the nasopharynx. This prevents the food from entering the nasal cavity. Failure of this process leads to nasal disgorgement. This is seen in neuromuscular disorders and post op adenoidectomy in sub mucous cleft, and rarely after palatopharyngoplasty
At times, the mucous membrane around the uvula may swell, causing the uvula to become edematous in allergic reaction; angioedema, a viral or bacterial infection.
A bifid uvula is a split or cleft uvula. Newborns with cleft palate also have a split uvula. The bifid uvula results from failure of complete fusion of the medial nasal and maxillary processes. Bifid uvulas have less muscle in them than a normal uvula; this may cause recurring problems with middle ear infections.
Blue uvula in OSA and Snorers
This is a common finding in patients who suffer from severe obstructive sleep apnea. Lack of oxygenation in blood makes a cyanosed uvula and edge of soft palate, the reason is the uvular artery-branch of lesser palatine being an end artery. Even the face looks bluish in these types of patients and their color returns red after a successful snoring surgery.
Uvula piercing is very dangerous compared to other forms of body piercing, as the risks involved include throat edema, bleeding, choking and uvular infection.