Parotitis is inflammation in one or both of the parotid glands. These are 2 large salivary glands that are inside each cheek over the jaw in front of each ear.
Parotitis can be: Acute—inflammation that resolves in a short period of time with or without treatmentChronic—includes persistent inflammation or alternating periods of flare-ups and remission
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An inflamed parotid gland has several causes. These vary depending on whether the condition is acute or chronic. The most common causes include:
Bacterial infectionMumps Other viral infections
Blockage of saliva flow Autoimmune diseases
This condition is more common in older adults. Other factors that may increase your chance of parotitis include: Dehydration and/or malnutritionRecent surgeryRadiation therapy
for head and neck cancer
Medical conditions, such as:
HIV infectionDiabetesAlcoholismSarcoidosisSjogren’s syndromeBlocked saliva flow, resulting from: Salivary stone in the parotid glandMucus plug in a salivary ductTumor—usually benignPsychiatric conditions, such as depression or eating disorders Use of certain medicationsPoor oral hygiene
Acute parotitis may cause: Sudden facial pain and swelling that worsens with salivation or after eatingRedness and tendernessPus that may drain into the mouth
Chronic parotitis may cause: Swelling around the parotid glandDry mouthMilky secretionsStrange or foul taste in your mouthFever, chills, and other signs of infection
Chronic parotitis can destroy the salivary glands.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. This may be enough to make a diagnosis. Tests may include a blood test and a fluid sample from the parotid gland.
Imaging tests evaluate the parotid gland and surrounding structures. These may include: UltrasoundCT scanMRI scanSialography to evaluate the ducts in and around the parotid gland
Treatment depends on what is causing the parotitis. Options may include:
Flossing and thorough tooth brushing at least twice per day may help with healing. Warm salt-water rinses can help keep the mouth moist. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways you can quit.
Medications may include: Antibiotics for bacterial infections (antibiotics are not effective for viral infections)Anti-inflammatory drugs to manage inflammation and pain
Your doctor may need to remove a stone, tumor, or other blockage. Increasing saliva flow may be all that is needed to remove a mucus plug.
To help reduce your chances of parotitis: Get prompt treatment for any infections.See your dentist for proper oral care as recommended.Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to avoid dehydration.Receive the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination if you have not yet been vaccinated
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http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 21, 2010. Accessed June 10, 2015.
Cain A. Parotitis. Net Doctor website. Available at:
http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/facts/parotitis.htm. Updated October 4, 2005. Accessed June 10, 2015.
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Wilson KF, Meier JD, et al. Salivary gland disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2014;9(11):882-888.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Fabienne Daguilh, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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