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Salivary gland infections

Parotitis; Sialadenitis

Salivary gland infections affect the glands that produce spit (saliva). The infection may be due to bacteria or viruses.

There are 3 pairs of major salivary glands:

All of the salivary glands empty saliva into the mouth. The saliva enters the mouth through ducts that open into the mouth in different places.

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Head and neck glands

Causes

Salivary gland infections are somewhat common, and they can return in some people.

Viral infections, such as mumps, often affect the salivary glands. (Mumps most often involves the parotid salivary gland). There are fewer cases today because of the widespread use of the MMR vaccine.

Bacterial infections are most often the result of a:

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider or dentist will do an exam to look for enlarged glands. You may also have pus that drains into the mouth. The gland is often painful.

A CT scan, MRI scan, or ultrasound may be done if the provider suspects an abscess, or to look for stones.

Your provider may suggest a mumps blood test if multiple glands are involved.

Treatment

In some cases, no treatment is needed.

Treatment from your provider may include:

Self-care steps you can take at home to help with recovery include:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most salivary gland infections go away on their own or are cured with treatment. Some infections will return. Complications are not common.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have:

Get medical help right away if you have:

Prevention

In many cases, salivary gland infections can't be prevented. Good oral hygiene may prevent some cases of bacterial infection.

Related Information

Mumps
Salivary duct stones
Dental care - adult
Abscess
Cellulitis
Ludwig angina

References

Elluru RG. Physiology of the salivary glands. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 83.

Jackson NM, Mitchell JL, Walvekar RR. Inflammatory disorders of the salivary glands. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 85.

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Review Date: 8/12/2019  

Reviewed By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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