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Mouth with palate and uvula

The uvula ( diminutive to Latin uva “grape”, so for example “little cloud”) or uvula palatina is the Latin name for the uvula or cervical uvula that belongs to the soft palate (palatum molle) and is located in the middle of the soft palate . A synonymous term is Staphyle ( die ), which comes from the Greek and also means "grape" (hence also staphylitis for an inflammation of the uvula).


The basis of the uvula is a muscle , the musculus uvulae , which shortens the uvula. The muscle is supplied with stimuli (innervated) by the vagus nerve , the Xth  cranial nerve , and is covered by movable, non-fixed mucous membrane (mucosa). When the uvula is touched, a gag reflex can be triggered, which can turn into vomiting , especially in sensitive people .

Role in sound formation

Some German consonants can also be articulated by air friction on the uvula or by vibration of the uvula in addition to other variants , for example there is a uvular vibrating form of the r-sound or its rubbed variant , and the uvular "oh sound" can also be formed . In other languages, for example French and Arabic , there are consonants that are generally spoken with the help of the uvula; in English, however, such sounds are completely absent.


Inflammation or mechanical irritation ( e.g. from snoring) can lead to edema of the uvula (uvuloedema, uvulitis), a severe and sometimes very unpleasant swelling. However, there is usually no risk of suffocation and the swelling will go away on its own over the course of a day.

An operation to shorten the uvula to treat snoring is called uvulovelopharyngoplasty. Surgical shortening of the uvula was described as early as the 12th century.

A brainstem infarction that affects the core area of the glossopharyngeal nerve or peripheral damage to the nerve ( glossopharyngeal palsy ) can lead to paralysis of the soft palate on the affected side. Characteristic are a deviation of the uvula (Uvuladeviation) in the phonation to the healthy side ( gate phenomenon ) and an attenuated gag reflex.

During embryonic development , the uvula can split longitudinally in the womb, known as uvula bifida . The diagnosis of a split uvula can point to a lethal gene mutation that results in reduced or absent production of the enzyme phosphoglucomutase 1 (PGM 1) . According to current knowledge, the enzyme deficiency can be almost compensated for by the sugar galactose , which can be obtained from lactose (milk sugar) in the digestive process.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Uvula  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. DocMedicus: Uvulovelopharyngoplastik .
  2. Gundolf Keil : "The best advice is the icker toe can against genomen vte platearise". References to Ypermans Medicine. In: Geneeskunde in nederlandstalige teksten tot 1600. Koninklijke Academie voor Geneeskunde van België, Brussels 2012 (2013), ISBN 978-90-75273-29-8 , pp. 93-137; here: p. 134.
  3. Split uvula reveals a rare disease . World online ; Retrieved December 4, 2014