Salivary Gland Disease Parotitis

Parotitis is an inflammation of one or both of the parotid salivary glands.

The parotid salivary gland is the largest of the salivary glands. Each person has two parotid glands, which are located in the upper cheeks in front of our ears, on each side of the face.

There are many possible causes of parotitis, ranging from a salivary stone (calculus) to the mumps. Symptoms of parotitis vary, depending on the cause of the inflammation, although a swollen parotid salivary gland is usually present.

Causes of Parotitis

The inflammation of the parotid salivary gland can be caused by an infection or may be the result of a lifelong condition. The following are some of the principal causes of parotitis:

  • AIDS: About 5 percent of AIDS patients have a significantly enlarged parotid gland, according to Colgate World of Care (2005).
  • Bacterial infection: When the saliva flow is reduced, bacteria can thrive and cause painful inflammation. Dehydrated patients and people with a reduced saliva flow are at a greater risk for this form of parotitis.
  • Mumps: Symptoms of this disease include a painful swelling of the parotid salivary glands, usually on both sides of the face.
  • Salivary stones: Non-cancerous stones in the saliva ducts can block saliva flow and cause a painful infection.
  • Sjogren’s syndrome: In this autoimmune disease, the body attacks moisture-producing organs, which can cause dry mouth and inflammation of the glands.
  • Tuberculosis: The parotid salivary gland can become infected with the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.
  • Tumors: Sometimes, tumors in the parotid salivary gland can block saliva flow, which causes an infection. These tumors are usually not cancerous.

Both bulimia and alcoholism can also lead to a painless swelling of the parotid salivary gland. Treating the underlying condition, such as alcoholism or bulimia, usually resolves the parotitis.

Prognosis and Treatment for Parotitis

The long-term outlook for patients with parotitis depends on the cause. For those with bacterial infections, salivary stones, tumors and mumps, symptoms usually subside soon after treatment. Other conditions require long-term treatment.

Treating inflammation of the parotid salivary gland also depends on the cause of the inflammation:

  • AIDS: AIDS medications may help relieve symptoms.
  • Bacterial infection: Antibiotics are an effective treatment for this form of parotitis.
  • Mumps: Symptoms of mumps usually disappear within 10 days. Monitoring mumps symptoms, such as a possible fever, and keeping the patient comfortable and hydrated are key.
  • Salivary stones: Removing the salivary gland stone will resolve the parotitis. Some stones will pass on their own, while others will need to be removed by a doctor.
  • Sjogren’s syndrome: Sjogren’s syndrome is a lifelong condition. Patients can work with their doctors to increase salivary flow and also to minimize and manage flare-ups of parotitis.
  • Tuberculosis: Antibiotic anti-tuberculosis drugs are used to treat this form of parotitis.
  • Tumors: Even if they’re benign, tumors causing inflammation of the parotid salivary gland are usually removed.

Resources

Cain, A. (2005). Parotitis. Retrieved October 6, 2010, from http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/facts/parotitis.htm.

Colgate World of Care. (2005). Parotitis. Retrieved October 6, 2010, from http://www.colgate.com/app/Colgate/US/OC/Information/OralHealthBasics/MedCondOralHealth/PhysDisorderOralEffects/Parotitis.cvsp.

Health-Care-Articles.info (n.d.). Parotitis – symptoms and treatment. Retrieved October 6, 2010, from http://www.health-care-articles.info/diseases/parotitis.htm.

SimpleStepstoBetterDentalHealth. (2008). Parotitis. Retrieved October 6, 2010, from http://www.simplestepsdental.com/SS/ihtSS/r.==/st.32219/t.32161/pr.3.html.