Q:

What does the uvula do?

A:

Quick Answer

The palatine uvula is a small, bell-shaped organ that hangs down in the back of the mouth and blocks the interior nasal passages while swallowing. The uvula has other functions, such as secreting a small amount of saliva, but preventing nasal regurgitation is one of its most important roles.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

The uvula is a small process of the soft palate that occupies a spot near the top of the throat between the tonsils. It contains a small muscle that can expand and contract to change the geometry of the uvula or to press it firmly against the back of the throat.

The uvula is usually static, moving only as the throat expands as when swallowing. As a normal part of the swallowing process, the soft palate recedes from the base of the tongue and opens a clear path to the esophagus. The uvula is lifted by this motion and comes to rest against the nasopharyngeal opening, the passage leading from the throat to the nose. By blocking this opening, the uvula prevents food and liquids from surging back up into the nose.

The uvula also plays a role in speech. People with cleft or absent uvulas often have nasal voices, as air is free to move through the nose with speech.

Learn more about Human Anatomy

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What does the medical term "foci" mean?

    A:

    Foci are cells located in a specific organ of the body that are notably different from the surrounding cells. These differences are caused by mutation or other types of cellular damage, and they're generally the first sign of a developing lesion, tumor or other disease.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the capacity of a human stomach?

    A:

    According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the human stomach is an elastic organ that can expand to hold from 0.25 to 1.7 L of contents without causing any discomfort. The average human stomach has a capacity of roughly 1 L, or a little more than a quart.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the function of the epididymis?

    A:

    The epididymis is an internal reproductive organ in males that transports and stores sperm cells that were first produced in the testes. The epididymis is also the site of sperm maturation.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Where is your liver?

    A:

    The human liver is a large, glandular organ that sits directly to the right of the stomach in the abdomen. It is found in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen and plays a crucial role in digestion.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore