What is parotitis?

Parotitis is the name given to inflammation and infection of the largest of the salivary glands known as the parotid glands. Inflammation results in swelling of the tissues that surround the salivary glands, redness, and soreness. Salivary glands are responsible for producing saliva in the mouth, which has the important function of cleansing the mouth. Inflammation of the salivary glands reduces their ability to function properly and may lead to infections within the mouth.

The inflammation of parotitis may result from many causes, including infection, drugs, radiation, and various diseases. Mumps was once the most common viral cause of parotitis, but vaccination has made mumps a rare disease today. Parotitis caused by bacterial infection is somewhat common in the United States.

Bacterial infection in parotitis results from the accumulation and growth of bacteria within the salivary glands. Among the most common causes of parotitis is obstruction of the salivary duct or poor oral hygiene. Drugs that cause dry mouth such as some antihistamines can increase the risk of parotitis, as can cancer treatments such as radiation therapy.

The signs and symptoms of parotitis can vary among individuals. Some people with parotitis may not realize they have a disease, while others may have severe swelling and pain. Fortunately, parotitis can be treated successfully with medications. You can reduce your risk of developing parotitis by practicing good oral hygiene, drinking plenty of fluids, washing your hands, and receiving the MMR vaccine to prevent mumps.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms such as a high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit) and difficulty breathing or swallowing.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for parotitis but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.


What are the symptoms of parotitis?

Parotitis causes swelling and inflammation of the parotid glands that may result in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.

Throat and neck symptoms of parotitis

The most common symptoms of parotitis are related to the throat and neck and include:


What causes parotitis?

Bacterial infections of the salivary glands are commonly a result of an obstruction, such as salivary duct stones or poor oral hygiene. Drugs that cause dry mouth, such as some antihistamines, can increase the risk of parotitis, as can cancer treatments such as radiation therapy.

What are the risk factors for parotitis?

A number of factors increase the risk of developin... Read more about parotitiscauses


How is parotitis treated?

Antibiotic therapy is the mainstay of treatment for parotitis that is caused by a bacterial infection. Additionally, if a secondary infection occurs within the mouth due to the dysfunctional salivary glands, antibiotics can be prescribed. Such an infection is diagnosed by fever or the presence of pus in the mouth. If complications such ... Read more about parotitistreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mouth, Teeth and Oral Health