Parotitis is swelling in one or both parotid glands. These are 2 large salivary glands that are between each ear and jaw.
The problem can be:
- Acute—Gets better in a short period of time with or without treatment
- Chronic—Causes long-term swelling or periods when things are worse and then better
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There are many causes. It depends whether the illness is acute or chronic. The most common causes are:
- Bacterial infection
- A viral infection, such as mumps
- Blockage of saliva flow
This illness is more common in older adults and newborns. Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Recent surgery
- Certain health problems, such as:
Blocked saliva flow from:
- Salivary stone in the parotid gland
- Mucus plug in a salivary duct
- Mental health problems, such as depression or eating disorders
- Use of certain medicines
- Radiation therapy for head and neck cancer
Acute parotitis may cause:
- Sudden pain and swelling that worsens with eating
- Pus that may drain into the mouth
Chronic parotitis may cause:
- Swelling around the parotid gland
- Dry mouth
- Milky discharge in the mouth
Chronic parotitis can destroy the salivary glands.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health 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.
Pictures may be taken of the area. These may be done with:
The cause of the problem will need to be treated. Choices are:
- Supportive care, such as warm water rinses and good oral hygiene
- Medicines, such as:
- Antibiotics to treat infection
- Anti-inflammatory drugs to manage swelling and pain
- Surgery to remove anything that may be blocking saliva flow
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research http://www.nidcr.nih.gov
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
Acute suppurative parotitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acute-suppurative-parotitis. Accessed October 30, 2020.
Chronic recurrent parotitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/chronic-recurrent-parotitis. Accessed October 30, 2020.
Hernandez S, Busso C, et al. Parotitis and Sialendoscopy of the Parotid Gland. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2016 Apr;49(2):381-393.
Parotitis. Net Doctor website. Available at: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/conditions/mouth-and-teeth/a3082/parotitis. Accessed October 30, 2020.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
- Review Date: 09/2020
- Update Date: 05/04/2021