Salivary Gland Disease Viral Infections

Some viral infections attack the salivary glands along with other parts of the body. Mumps (also referred to as “epidemic parotitis”) is the most well-known of these viral infections, and a swollen salivary gland is the most well-known symptom of mumps.

However, other viral infections can cause a swollen salivary gland and related symptoms. These include:

  • Coxsackie virus A
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Echovirus
  • Flu
  • Parainfluenza.

Symptoms of Viral Infections

Salivary gland viral infections rarely go after the minor salivary glands. The parotid salivary glands, found near the ear in the upper part of each cheek, are most often affected.

In most cases of mumps, both salivary glands are swollen. In cases of bacterial infections, it’s common for only one of the salivary glands to be affected.

Other symptoms usually accompany viral infections, including:

  • Aches and pains
  • Chills
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Poor appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Sweats
  • Tender salivary glands.

While mumps is usually concentrated in the salivary glands, it can also affect the pancreas, testicles and brain.

The Coxsackie A virus has similar symptoms to mumps, but in addition to the swollen salivary glands and general malaise, the lining of the mouth can be inflamed and covered with small sores.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Viral Infections

Usually, a physical examination is all doctors need to diagnose the mumps or other viral infections. Doctors will sometimes use a blood test to test for viral infections, because if the patient has mumps, the mumps antibody will be elevated.

Mumps is most common in unvaccinated children between 5 and 10 years old, although you can get the disease at any age.

Treatment for the mumps and other viral infections usually concentrates on helping the patient feel more comfortable. Common practices include:

  • Bed rest
  • Drinking lots of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Heat packs on the swollen salivary gland
  • Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, to reduce discomfort and fever (avoid using aspirin with children due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome).
  • Soft foods
  • Warm, salt water gargles.

Most people recover from viral infections in about 10 days, without complications, even when other organs besides the salivary glands have been affected. In some cases, children with mumps can develop meningitis or encephalitis. On the bright side, one exposure to mumps usually leads to lifetime immunity.


Harvard Medical School. (2007). Salivary gland disorders. Retrieved September 27, 2010, from