Parotitis is an inflammation of the parotid glands, which are two large salivary glands, one in the front of and one right under the ear. These can be inflamed for various reasons, such as a bacterial infection which happens in older people, especially if they take medications which cause their mouth to be dehydrated, where saliva flow is reduced, and it can cause bacteria to collect. There is also a salivary stone which might block the flow of saliva, which causes a swollen gland and sometimes the infection. Another is mucus plugs, which is where saliva is made with the mucus. When there is dry mouth, mucus thickens and can block the flow of saliva. There is also Sjogren’s syndrome, which is a lifelong disease that hits the area.
There are other medical conditions that can happen with this. Mumps is a viral infection that can hit these glands, but it tends to be rare. AIDS is another, where about 5% of people with this have issues with the gland. A tumor can happen as well, but usually, they’re not cancerous. Finally, there are certain medical conditions such as alcoholism and bulimia, which can cause problems, and usually, they don’t cause infections.
When air gets into this, it’s usually called pneumoparotitis, which may not include inflammation as well.
Usually, the symptoms are varied, but the typically include pain, bad taste, and dry mouth. Usually, if the gland is tender and sore, and the skin is red and swollen, it’s infected. The doctor may take fluid from the gland to treat this and find out why. If you have mumps, your doctor will diagnose it based on medical history, symptoms, or blood tests. Finally, they may do an x-ray to see if there is a salivary stone, and in some cases, CT or MRI scans also help.
Typically, these respond to antibiotics in a few days but don’t stop taking the medicine once you feel better since it can take 1-2 weeks for it to fully disappear. Mumps disappears in about 10 days. For some diseases, t might never disappear. For alcoholism or bulimia, it gets better if brought under control. Parotitis from a salivary stone should get better after the tumor or stone is taken out.
Some people are more inclined to build stones or mucus plugs, and you can prevent this usually by drinking lots of fluids. You can also suck on sour, sugarless candies can also do the body good by producing saliva, and you can always talk to your doctor about this.
If you have a bacterial infection, you’ll be given antibiotics more than likely. If you have mumps it goes away on its own, but avoid contact with people to prevent others from getting infected. Some salivary stones may be taken out with a probe, but larger stones require surgery.
Whatever it might be, do see your doctor if you notice problems related to this, since it can make a big difference too.