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Salivary Glands

In people with bulimia, repeated vomiting may sometimes causes the salivary glands to swell. Also known as sialadenosis, when the salivary glands swell, it causes the jaw to widen and appear squarish. Specialists report that salivary glands do not swell unless a patient is vomiting several times a day.

No one is exactly sure why this happens, but theories abound. For example, this enlargement may be related to nutritional deficiencies or it may somehow relate to the bizarre eating habits (particularly the bulimia and vomiting) characteristic of these patients.

Normally the swollen salivary glands that give the appearance of “chipmunk-like cheeks” go down when the binge purging behavior ceases. It usually takes several weeks to see a change. The swelling may continue for months, and in rare cases, may be permanent.

Treatment options may include prescribed antibiotics, ridding the mucus trapped in the glands, and blockage needing surgery.