There are three paired major Salivary Glands in the human body and countless minor salivary glands.
The Major salivary Glands are - Parotid (in front of the ear, on the cheeks), Submandibular (high in the neck, just below the jaw bone on each side) and the Sublingual (on the floor of the mouth).
Stones are sometimes formed in these glands which cause extreme discomfort, pain and swelling.
Why do they occur?
Salivary Gland stones can occur due to the following conditions:
- Poor Oro Dental hygiene
- Oral Injury
- Post Radiotherapy treatment
- Being Male and Elderly - Males and the elderly are more prone
What are the Symptoms?
A Salivary Gland consists of a gland (which secretes the saliva) and a duct which is the channel through which saliva passes from the gland into the oral cavity.A Stone can form in the gland or in the duct and cause obstruction. Obstruction to the flow of saliva causes the saliva to build up in the gland - this causes a painful swelling which is specially prominent during meal times.
So a recurrent painful swelling is the most common presenting symptom. This is worse during eating or drinking something Sour as this causes the maximum salivary secretion.
What should be done?
An initial consultation with the ENT Specialist will help the doctor to assess and reach a diagnosis. Some tests including an Ultrasound or an FNAC (a needle test) may be ordered depending upon the requirement. Initial episodes may be treated with an Antibiotic (in the presence of a Bacterial Infection) and analgesics. This usually suffices.
In the presence of recurrent episodes of painful swelling some surgical intervention may be required. This could be
- Intra ductal removal of the stone - if readily available in the floor of the mouth
- Gland Removal - specially the Submandibular gland
- Sialendoscopy - An endoscopic technique for removal of the stone or enlarging the duct.
What Home Remedies are there?
The following simple procedures can help with Salivary Gland disease
- Maintaining a good oro-dental hygiene
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Massage of the Gland to reduce the swelling
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