The salivary glands may become swollen if infected, and lead to protruding cheeks as experienced in the disease Mumps (where the parotid gland is infected). The major salivary glands are around the mouth and throat and are the parotid, sublingual, and submandibular glands.
Other smaller glands are located in the lips, cheeks, and linings of the mouth and throat. They are all possible targets of infection and inflammation. It is also possible for these glands to become blocked by stone formation, which will be experienced as swelling of the glands whilst eating (saliva is still being produced it just cannot exit the gland and therefore causes swelling). salivary glands may be partially obstructed, so swell during eating, and then dissipate gradually afterwards. This can lead to the glands becoming abscessed and infected due to backed up saliva.
Congenital abnormalities may play a part in obstruction of normal salivary flow, with concomitant abscesses, infections, and swelling. If an adult has a swelling of the parotid gland on one side it is unlikely to be mumps, but could be an obstruction or a tumour and should be assessed quickly. Auto-immune diseases can also lead to salivary gland swelling, and swollen parotid glands often occur in alcoholism and in diabetes.
Last Updated: 10/09/2011