You may be wondering if mold affects salivary gland size or functioning. Exposure to mold in the home can cause infections that can cause swollen lymph nodes and when the lymph nodes in the neck area are swollen, people sometimes mistake those for swollen salivary glands. Lymph nodes and salivary glands are not the same things, however. We’ll explain what salivary glands are, how they might be affected by exposure to mold, and what to do if you think mold is making you ill.
Salivary glands are glands in the mouth and throat that produce saliva. There are more than 100 of them and, your salivary glands can produce up to one quart, or four cups, of saliva every day. Saliva aids digestion by beginning the process of breaking down food and it also helps keep the mouth and teeth healthy by washing them clean of food particles and other debris.
There are lymph nodes in the neck, as well as elsewhere in the body. They are part of the body’s immune system and often become swollen during illness. You can read more about how exposure to mold can lead to swollen lymph nodes.
There are many things that can affect or interfere with the proper function of salivary glands, including obstruction by small stones (called sialoliths), bacterial infections, viral infections such as mumps, cysts and tumors. Mold exposure in the home is not a common cause of salivary gland problems but in severe cases of mold-related illness in which the immune system is compromised or when the infection becomes widespread and sepsis sets in, salivary glands may become affected along with other glands and organs.
Symptoms of salivary gland problems may include swelling of the salivary glands on one or both sides of the mouth, a very dry mouth (called xerostomia), pain, fever, and a bad taste in the mouth or a bad-tasting discharge inside the mouth. If mold-related illness is causing salivary gland problems, you will likely experience other symptoms as well, such as respiratory problems or allergy symptoms. You can read about the many symptoms of mold-related illness.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of mold-related illness, whether or not your salivary glands or lymph nodes seem to be involved, see your doctor. If you’re having trouble swallowing, if your neck is swollen, if you’re in pain, or if you have a high fever, see a doctor right away or go to the emergency room. Your condition could be serious.
Let your doctor know if you’ve been exposed to mold or if you think mold might be causing your symptoms. Your doctor will probably do a number of tests in order to determine the cause of your symptoms, which may include blood tests, imaging tests such as x-rays, a CT scan or an MRI, or maybe even a biopsy. You may be referred to one or more specialists, such as an otolaryngologist (a doctor that specializes in the ears, nose and throat), an endocrinologist (a doctor that specializes in the glands), an infectious disease specialist, or an immunologist.
If you are experiencing a dry mouth because your salivary glands are not producing the usual amount of saliva, you should also see your dentist. Dry mouth is a common cause of tooth decay and gum disease. It can even increase your risk of fungal infections in the mouth and can also lead to sores and pain in the mouth, which can make chewing and swallowing difficult.
Your doctor or dentist can answer any specific questions about how mold affects salivary gland functioning in your case.
In addition to seeking medical treatment, you’ll need to arrange to have the mold removed from your home in order to make a full recovery. If you continue to be exposed to the mold that is making you sick, your condition may continue to worsen even with medical care. Since the process of cleaning up mold stirs up mold spores, it will increase your exposure to the very thing that is making you sick. For that reason, and because it’s so important for your recovery to make sure all traces of mold are removed, we recommend hiring a professional to handle the mold removal. You can schedule a free consultation with an experienced mold removal professional to discuss your needs. Find qualified mold removal professionals offering free consultations in your area by following the link provided.