Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Salivary Gland Disease

There are many diseases and conditions that can cause salivary glands to malfunction, including salivary gland swelling, infection, stones and chronic illnesses. Illnesses that impact the saliva glands include:

Swelling of the salivary glands can be caused by:

Salivary gland stones are most often found in people with:

  • Chronic dehydration
  • Gout
  • Medications that reduce saliva production

Infection of the salivary glands occurs in patients who:

  • Have had radiation therapy
  • Have Sjögren syndrome
  • Have a chronic illness causing dry mouth

Diagnosing salivary gland diseases

Your physician will take a detailed medical history and perform a physical exam to determine the extent of the salivary gland malfunction. Your physician may even squeeze the glands to evaluate the amount of saliva expressed. Other tests include:

  • X-ray: Traditional X-ray images can identify the presence of a stone or other blockage.
  • X-ray with contrast: A special series of X-rays is taken of your gland after it has been injected with a contrast material that shows up well on X-rays.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan or ultrasound: These tests help determine if there is a structural cause for your symptoms.
  • Biopsy: Using a small forceps, your physician may take a small sample of gland tissue for examination under a microscope.