• Parotitis

    (Sialadenitis; Salivary Gland Infection)


    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 treatment
    • Chronic—includes persistent inflammation or alternating periods of flare-ups and remission
    Parotid Gland
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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 infection
    • Mumps
    • Other viral infections
    • Blockage of saliva flow
    • Autoimmune diseases

    Risk Factors

    This condition is more common in older adults. Other factors that may increase your chance of parotitis include:
    • Dehydration and/or malnutrition
    • Recent surgery
    • Radiation therapy for head and neck cancer
    • Medical conditions, such as: Blocked saliva flow, resulting from:
      • Salivary stone in the parotid gland
      • Mucus plug in a salivary duct
      • Tumor—usually benign
    • Psychiatric conditions, such as depression or eating disorders
    • Use of certain medications
    • Poor oral hygiene


    Acute parotitis may cause:
    • Sudden facial pain and swelling that worsens with salivation or after eating
    • Redness and tenderness
    • Pus that may drain into the mouth
    Chronic parotitis may cause:
    • Swelling around the parotid gland
    • Dry mouth
    • Milky secretions
    • Strange or foul taste in your mouth
    • Fever, 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:


    Treatment depends on what is causing the parotitis. Options may include:

    Good Oral Hygiene

    Flossing once a day and thorough tooth brushing at least twice a 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

    Blockage Removal

    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


    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov

    National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research http://www.nidcr.nih.gov


    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

    Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca


    Acute suppurative parotitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115829/Acute-suppurative-parotitis. Updated June 21, 2010. Accessed June 10, 2015.

    Cain A. Parotitis. Net Doctor website. Available at: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/conditions/mouth-and-teeth/a3082/parotitis. Accessed June 10, 2015.

    Chitre VV, Premchandra DJ. Review: recurrent parotitis. Arch Dis Child. 1997;77(4):359-363.

    Wilson KF, Meier JD, Ward PD. Salivary gland disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2014;9(11):882-888.

    Revision Information

    • Reviewer: David Horn, MD
    • Review Date: 05/2016
    • Update Date: 05/11/2013
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