Sialolithiasis

Since autoimmune diseases are listed as a possible risk factor for salivary duct stone formation, one might think this little bit of trivia would be better known.

Just as stones can form in the kidneys and gallbladder, they can also form in the salivary ducts.  The stones themselves don’t hurt.  It’s when they’re big enough to block the ducts that there’s a problem.

Blocked ducts create an annoying lump that can become larger at mealtimes (because saliva flows when you eat, but can’t get out so backs up behind the blockage in the duct).  Fortunately, the lump gets smaller again after the meal is over.

Over time, blocked ducts can become infected, so they shouldn’t be ignored.  The question is, who will take care of one?  I don’t know, but you can cross my rheumatologist and my dentist of the list of possibilities.  When I finally get an answer, I’ll post it here.  (Edit to add: blocked salivary ducts are treated by an ENT)

Sometimes blocked ducts can be milked to force the stone out.  Exactly how that takes place in a confined space isn’t clear, since there’s no room for multiple fingers to try squeezing anything under the tongue.

One recommendation in trying to dislodge a stone is to drink extra fluids.  Dehydration thickens the saliva and can be a risk factor for stone formation, and thinning it out again can help get things flowing again.  Sucking on citrus fruits to stimulate saliva production is also supposed to help.

If all else fails, at least you’ve added another cool word to your vocabulary.

SIGH a lo li THIGH a sis

For further reading:

Salivary Gland Disorders
Salivary Duct Stones
Salivary Glands
Salivary Gland Diseases & Tumors
Sialolithiasis