Parotitis

Parotitis is soreness and swelling (inflammation) of one or both parotid glands. The parotid glands produce saliva. They are located on each side of the face, below and in front of the earlobes. The saliva produced comes out of tiny openings (ducts) inside the cheeks. In most cases, parotitis goes away over time or with treatment. If your parotitis is caused by certain long-term (chronic) diseases, it may come back again.

CAUSES

Parotitis can be caused by:

  • Viral infections. Mumps is one viral infection that can cause parotitis.

  • Bacterial infections.

  • Blockage of the salivary ducts due to a salivary stone.

  • Narrowing of the salivary ducts.

  • Swelling of the salivary ducts.

  • Dehydration.

  • Autoimmune conditions, such as sarcoidosis or Sjogren's syndrome.

  • Air from activities such as scuba diving, glass blowing, or playing an instrument (rare).

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

  • Tuberculosis.

SYMPTOMS

  • The ears may appear to be pushed up and out from their normal position.

  • Redness (erythema) of the skin over the parotid glands.

  • Pain and tenderness over the parotid glands.

  • Swelling in the parotid gland area.

  • Yellowish-white fluid (pus) coming from the ducts inside the cheeks.

  • Dry mouth.

  • Bad taste in the mouth.

DIAGNOSIS

Your caregiver may determine that you have parotitis based on your symptoms and a physical exam. A sample of fluid may also be taken from the parotid gland and tested to find the cause of your infection. X-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans may be taken if your caregiver thinks you might have a salivary stone blocking your salivary duct.

TREATMENT

Treatment varies depending upon the cause of your parotitis. If your parotitis is caused by mumps, no treatment is needed. The condition will go away on its own after 7 to 10 days. In other cases, treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics if your infection was caused by bacteria.

  • Pain medicines.

  • Gland massage.

  • Eating sour candy to increase your saliva production.

  • Removal of salivary stones. Your caregiver may flush stones out with fluids or remove them with tweezers.

  • Surgery to remove the parotid glands.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • If you were given antibiotics, take them as directed. Finish them even if you start to feel better.

  • Put warm compresses on the sore area.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have increasing pain or swelling that is not controlled with medicine.

  • You have a fever.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.