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:
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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:
This condition is more common in older adults. Other factors that may increase your chance of parotitis include:
Acute parotitis may cause:
Chronic parotitis may cause:
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:
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:
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:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Public Health Agency of Canada
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.
Last reviewed May 2016 by David Horn, 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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