Sialolithiasis is one of those conditions which have a funny, hard to spell and pronounce name but which is simple to explain.

Sialolithiasis means stone in the salivary duct. The salivary glands are located near the tongue and secrete saliva through the ducts.

if a stone forms in one of the ducts, it can cause obstruction of the duct. The gland, not aware that there is something blocking the flow of saliva, continues to put out more saliva. This in turn causes the gland to swell.

Infection often occurs, as the obstruction predisposes to bacterial overgrowth. All together no big deal except if the swelling and infection spread to surrounding areas in the mouth. If enough swelling in nearby areas occur, then the airway may become narrowed, which is truly an emergency.

What predisposes patients to these stones are dehydration, use of certain medications such as anticholinergics, which dry out secretions, and trauma.

Treatment involves using lemon drops, which increase secretions and help push the stone out of the duct. Antibiotics such as Keflex will usually take care of the infection.

If the swelling worsens despite treatment then a CT scan may be ordered so that the extent of the swelling of gland can be better determined. At times a stent may need to be placed in the duct so that the stone can be removed and the obstruction relieved.