Skip to main content
Avg ER Wait
Checking ER Wait Time
The feed could not be reached
Retry?
The Medical Center of Plano
--
mins
24 / 7 Emergency Care
--
mins

Parotitis

Definition

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
Nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

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:

Symptoms

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.

Diagnosis

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

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

Good Oral Hygiene

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

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.

Prevention

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

Revision Information

  • 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 website. Available at: 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.

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

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