A uvula is that part of the mouth that is conical in shape and hanging from the back of the throat. It is located close to the tonsils and can be readily seen when a person opens his/her mouth.
The majority of the world population has a uvula that is conical in shape, hanging upside down. However, there are times when the uvula is split. This condition is called a bifid or bifurcated uvula. Sometimes it is also called a cleft uvula. This condition is affecting as much as 2% of the general population.This is perhaps best described as a fork in the uvula.
The exact shape of the fork will vary from one person to another and still, the forking will often be almost symmetrical.
Causes And Complications Of Bifid Uvula
Bifid Uvula Causes
The following may be the possible reasons why a bifurcated uvula occurs in the patient:
- A forked uvula may be caused by genetics. In fact, many of the patients with a cleft uvula have at least one family member also affected with the condition in another generation or even in the present or immediate generation.
- Such a genetic problem could be due to Loeys-Dietz syndrome. This is a very rare genetic syndrome.
- This condition is caused by the incomplete fusion of the medial nasal and maxillary processes.
Bifid Uvula Complications
A bifurcated uvula can actually cause a lot of complications as the uvula has an important role in swallowing. Thus, the following are possible complications:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm.
- The soft palate might be undeveloped. Thus, food and liquids could possibly enter the nasal cavity, causing breathing problems and choking.
- Impaired speech because of the difficulties or abnormalities in moving the soft palate muscles. Also, there is a loss of air in the nose.
- Middle ear infections.
Treatment For Cleft Or Bifid Uvula
Possible treatments of a bifurcated uvula include the following:
- Some patients may opt for the removal of the bifurcated uvula but others would opt for the surgical reconstruction of these abnormal tissues.
- If the symptom includes speech difficulties, then a speech therapist could possibly help the patient learn how to talk well.
- Swallowing and feeding problems may also be addressed through appropriate therapy.
- If there are infections in the ear, it is best to consult a doctor who can provide the necessary medications. Some herbal medications may also help address infections.