Salivary glands produce saliva to keep our mouth moist. Saliva mixes with the food while we chew it and facilitates in swallowing the food. Thus it aids in digestion of food. Anatomically the three pairs of salivary glands include;
- Parotid glands: they are situated on both sides of cheek adjacent to ears.
- Submandibular glands: they are situated on either side under the jaw; they also release saliva in the mouth.
- Sublingual glands: these salivary glands are located just below your tongue, the ducts releases saliva in the mouth through its opening on the floor of the mouth.
What Causes Swelling Of The Salivary Glands?
There are two major reasons for swelling of salivary glands, firstly infection, and second cause is obstruction of the salivary duct, (passage or tube through which saliva is delivered in the mouth).
The most common cause of swollen salivary gland is viral infection. Parotid glands are often infected and swollen due to virus infection and the condition is known as ‘Mumps’.
Tiny stones situated in salivary glands may be asymptomatic; however when the stone blocks salivary duct it leads to pain and swelling of salivary gland. The exact reason for formation of stone is uncertain, but decreased secretion of saliva due to dehydration, less food intake and medications are blamed.
Bacterial infection resulting from blockage due to stone or poor oral hygiene can cause inflammation of salivary glands. It can be a serious infection in elderly and people with compromised immune state.
Benign and malignant tumors of salivary gland can also lead to its swelling.
Swollen Salivary Glands Symptoms
Symptoms of swollen salivary glands depend on which gland is affected and whether it is infection or obstruction.
Most often it is the parotid glands that get infected. There is tenderness and pain on both or either sides of cheek, as even single salivary gland can gets affected. Bad taste in mouth due to discharge of pus in the mouth. In severe bacterial infection there may be fever, chills, body ache and debility.
In mumps the patient finds difficulty in opening his mouth due to swollen parotid glands. There is pain and tenderness around the parotid area. Fever, body pain, generalized weakness headache, loss of appetite are some of the symptoms. Usually both parotid glands are affected.
Swollen salivary gland resulting from stone may feel like lump, usually on the floor of the mouth as sublingual glands are often affected.
Home Treatment For Swollen Salivary Glands
There are few natural treatment options for swollen salivary glands that may prove effective in reducing the symptoms.
- Drink enough water and fluids to keep your salivary glands active. Water helps to lubricate dryness and soothe the swollen gland.
- Besides water you can also drink fruit juices to enhance the salivary secretion and reduce swelling.
- Avoid colas and alcohol beverages when the salivary glands are swollen as they may aggravate the condition.
- Do not drink too hot or too cold liquids and juices since they may worsen the condition.
- The best home remedy to alleviate swelling of salivary glands is salt water gargling. Salt being mild antiseptic may destroy the germs and water helps to lubricate the glands. Gargle at least three times in a day when your salivary glands are swollen.
- Stop alcohol and smoking as they both aggravate the condition.
To prevent swelling of salivary gland, brush your teeth regularly, and keep your mouth germs free, since bacteria present in mouth is usually the cause for development of swelling in salivary glands.