Salivary gland pain on drinking alcohol

I’ve recently noticed a pain in both salivary glands (just under/forward of ears) with exposure to the slightest amount of alcohol.

It doesn’t have to be a strong spirit - it’s happened with drinks with quite low alcohol content (under 5%)

It might be the sort of pain we’ve all experienced occasionally. Do you ever put something in your mouth, and it’s so mouthwatering, you literally can’t make enough saliva quickly enough, to the point it hurts?

Well, it’s like that, but very specific to alcohol. I made the mistake of Googling (which I’m forever advising others not to do, so know I shouldn’t have). But apparently this phenomenon is a rare but very specific symptom of lymphoma. Lymphoma and MS are thought to share a common genetic basis, so that’s got me even more scared.

However, I don’t have any other symptoms typical of lymphoma, such as unexplained weight loss - apart from feeling generally cak most of the time - but we already know I’m not well.

I was wondering whether any of you with MS have had a facial nerve problem, that caused issues with salivation, or alternatively whether any of my drugs (notably Baclofen, Diazepam or quinine) can cause salivary issues.

Other than those, I only really take conventional painkillers of codeine, paracetamol and ibuprofen, and those not all the time, and I’m not aware of any of them them being linked to salivary problems.

I usually get a summons from the surgery about both my flu jab and a medication review (which usually consists of just a blood pressure check), about October or November, so not long now. Wondering if it’s OK to wait 'til then and then mention it, or if this needs investigating more urgently.

But I do feel a bit of a hypochondriac saying: “It hurts when I drink”, in the absence of any other symptoms, as the obvious answer is: “Well, don’t drink, then!”, and I’m sure the question will be raised of whether I should be, with all the other crap I’m on.

Any experience of this please?



Hiya Tina I’m not sure if I can offer the help or advice you’re looking for with this, although my friend once had a problem with pain during and after eating with her glands. Long story short, after a trip to see her Gp, she was told she had a salivary stone & that was what was causing her discomfort whilst eating. As far as I’m aware, it was fine when she was drinking - anything, not just alcohol like you’re experiencing it with. Good news is that it’s a quick fix, if indeed salivary stones are the issue with yourself. As you say, you’re due a kinda pre winter MOT check up but that’s still a good few weeks away. I’d give the surgery a call and try & get seen sooner, just incase. You don’t want to have to suffer pain & discomfort for any longer than you really need too. Plus im sure I’ve read you previously mention that you enjoy a glass of wine now & again? And it’d be a shame to have to add that to the list of things you can’t do until seeing your gp in 6-8wks. Duno if this has been any help to you? I hope I haven’t caused you more worry & concern, that really wasn’t my intention. It’s just because my friend only recently had this herself & I thought of her as soon as I read your post. Go see your gp & get it checked out, then you can go back to enjoying your favourite tipple again :slight_smile: x

Hi Libertine,

I did wonder about salivary gland stones - but both sides, simultaneously? That would point to there being an underlying cause, which was why I wondered about my meds. Some meds do cause dry mouth, which can in turn increase the risk of stones, but nothing I’m on seems particularly known for it - that’s why I wondered if anyone else here might have had trouble.

I’m also suspicious of it being alcohol, and only alcohol. Although it does vary with taste. Last night, a glass of red wine (fairly rounded and mellow) produced only mild and fleeting pain.

But last week, a very dry cider produced much more intense and longer-lasting pain. So it does seem the sharpness of the flavour has something to do with it, but the common factor is definitely alcohol. It doesn’t appear to do it with bitter lemon, no matter how bitter and tangy it is. The cider was actually lower alcohol content than the wine, so it’s not simple alcohol concentration - but it only happens if there’s at least some.

I don’t drink all the time, by any means, so quite a few days can pass without touching a drop, during which time I forget all about it. Then I unthinkingly pour myself a drink, and realise: “Oh, that pain’s back!”



Hi Tina

Try not to worry, I had this exact pain many years ago also when I drank wine, sometimes sharp sometimes not so, I wondered if it was because wine is asidick.

I no longer suffer,but then I don’t really drink either.

However I was diagnosed with a lump in my Parathyroid gland which had to be removed,and thankfully was bernine but I’m not sure if it was actually down to that as I had a lot going on at the time with Ms dx and menopause too, but I had forgotten about it entirely until I saw your post.

i also had a blood test at hospitals and it showed I had high calcium too. Why I didn’t ask what was causing this pain I don’t know maybe because it didn’t seem Important at the time.

im not sure if I’ve really helped you or made it worse, I hope not,

Why don’t you ring doctors and ask them to ring you back so you can ask their advice? Surely they should have some idea and can at least put your mind at rest.

Ann x

It’s funny that you mentioned it doesn’t happen with bitter lemon, cos one of the things my friend had to do was sit sucking on pieces of sliced lemon to activate her salvia and in turn, dislodge the tiny calcium stone. She laughs about it now though, cos all it did was give her lemon face (we all know what I mean!!) & had her mouth full of slevers but it didn’t dislodge the stone as the gp was hoping. She had to get hers removed at the Drs surgery instead. They numbed her mouth & basically used a pair of tweezers to remove said stone from her mouth. I know I haven’t used the correct medical terminology for any of that but you get my drift. Give your surgery a call & even request a phone consultation instead of an actual appointment? Then you’ll know either way. Hope you get it sorted soon & I don’t read a post about you sitting sucking on chunks of lemon!!! :smiley: x

Thanks, folks.

Ann, it’s reassuring to hear from someone else who has had this, and it wasn’t anything critical. Not that it sounds a very pleasant thing you went through, but at least it wasn’t dangerous.

I didn’t even know I had parathyroid glands! Prompted by your post, I did a bit of Googling, and apparently they have nothing at all to do with the thyroid, except location. It just means “behind the thyroid”, and they are tiny.

The calcium may be relevant. I think excess calcium can actually be implicated in salivary gland stones, as they are actually made mostly of calcium. I wonder if I have accidentally ODed on calcium, as I am taking supplements (I understood it was sensible, to keep things in balance, if you were also supplementing Vitamin D).

Reading about causes of excess calcium, as well as being linked to parathyroid disorders, it can be caused by over-supplementation with calcium itself, OR with vitamin D. As I take both, I wonder? I’ve never been an adopter of the huge vitamin D doses some people with MS favour (I always remember Karen - Rizzo - who used to be a regular here - admitting that she had unwittingly managed to OD on her super high-strength Vitamin D supplements, and didn’t realise, because the symptoms are so similar to MS)

So I don’t touch the ultra high doses. BUT, having said that, my vitamin D has never been found low, so I might still be taking too much for someone who didn’t have a deficiency in the first place. And the same with calcium. It’s hardly likely I’m short, being such a cheese lover, so perhaps I didn’t need to supplement, and may have overdone it.

I may take up the suggestion of the telephone appointment, just to see if I have any reason to be worried.

It’s a bit of a palaver getting to the doctor’s (direct bus was withdrawn a year or two ago), and I think if I book a normal face-to-face, there’ll be a fortnight’s waiting list anyway - there usually is. By which time I expect I’ll have been summoned for my annual review, so won’t actually have gained anything.

We’re well past the middle of September already, aren’t we? Gosh! And I don’t think I’m usually asked to pop in for a chat much later than October, so it must be due-ish. So it’s either hold on for that, or try for the phone appointment.

Honestly, it’s always some damn thing, isn’t it?



Agree with libertine. It sounds like a stone in your salivary gland. Had one myself 8 or 9 years ago. It has nothing to do with MS.

Had an operation to remove it.

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I do not have any medical conditions except hyper thyroidism (meds) and i get this same feeling every time i drink! Its both sides of my cheek area (in front of ears) and feels like that pain you get from blowing up a balloon (sharp pain in front of both ears). Curious if you found a cause? I, too, only get when drinking alcohol!