What is Parotid Gland Infection & How is it Treated?

What is Parotid Gland Infection?

Parotid Gland Infection is a pathological condition of the salivary gland, in which these glands get infected by a bacteria or a viral infection. The infection may be isolated to the salivary glands or may also involve the salivary ducts. Parotid Gland Infection can occur as a result of decrease salivary flow due to some sort of obstruction or in case of inflammation of the salivary duct. Saliva plays an important role in digestion of the food that we eat by assisting in breakdown of foods. It also helps the mouth to stay clear and free of any bacteria and other food particles.

When there is reduced flow of saliva in the mouth, then not all the bacteria is washed away and some bacteria still remains in the mouth. These bacteria may ultimately cause infection. If the infection is caused in the parotid gland, which is present inside the cheek then it is termed as Parotid Gland Infection.

What is Parotid Gland Infection?

What are the Risk Factors for Parotid Gland Infection?

There are certain risk factors, which predispose an individual towards Parotid Gland Infection. These risk factors are:

  • People above 60 years of age have increased risk for Parotid Gland Infection.
  • People who do not have practice proper oral hygiene are also susceptible to Parotid Gland Infection
  • Children who are not immunized against mumps are at significantly increased risk for developing Parotid Gland Infection
  • Apart from the above the following medical conditions also increase the risk of Parotid Gland Infection:

What Causes Parotid Gland Infection?

Parotid Gland Infection as stated above is caused by a bacterial infection of the parotid glands, which are situated inside the cheeks. The bacterium most responsible for Parotid Gland Infection is Staphylococcus aureus. Some of the other species of bacteria which may cause Parotid Gland Infection are:

  • Streptococcus viridans.
  • Haemophilus influenzae.
  • Escherichia coli.

All of the above mentioned species of bacteria infect the parotid gland only when there is reduced flow of saliva in the mouth, which as a result is not able to clear any bacteria that may have entered by way of food into the mouth. The reduced salivary flow may be due to obstruction or inflammation of the salivary gland. There are also certain medical conditions which reduce flow of the saliva. These are:

  • Mumps which is an extremely contagious viral infection which are found in children who have not been immunized against this infection.
  • HIV.
  • Influenza.
  • Herpes.
  • Blockage of salivary duct by mucus.
  • Tumor.
  • Sarcoidosis.
  • Dehydration.

What are the Symptoms of Parotid Gland Infection?

Some of the symptoms of Parotid Gland Infection include:

  • Abnormal foul taste in the mouth which may be persistent.
  • Inability to open the mouth fully.
  • Pain with opening the mouth or while eating.
  • Buildup of pus in the mouth.
  • Excessive dry mouth.
  • Mouth pain.
  • Facial pain.
  • Facial or neck swelling.

In case if an individual experiences high-grade fever or breathing problems along with other symptoms of Parotid Gland Infection, then it is necessary to go to the nearest emergency room for emergency treatment of Parotid Gland Infection.

How is Parotid Gland Infection Diagnosed?

A visual inspection along with a history of pain in the mouth or collection of pus in the mouth may be enough for a physician to diagnose Parotid Gland Infection, as pus and pain is generally sign of a bacterial infection. To further confirm the diagnosis of Parotid Gland Infection, the physician may perform additional tests to identify the specific species of bacteria that is causing the infection and also to identify any other potential causes of Parotid Gland Infection like an abscess or a tumor. The following tests may also be done to confirm the diagnosis of Parotid Gland Infection.

  • Ultrasound of the mouth and facial area.
  • MRI scan of he mouth region.
  • CT scan of the mouth region.
  • A biopsy may also be performed of the infected parotid glands in order to confirm the diagnosis of Parotid Gland Infection.

How is Parotid Gland Infection Treated?

The treatment of Parotid Gland Infection depends on the severity of the infection, the cause of it, and any other symptoms that may accompany the symptoms of infection like pain or swelling. The front line treatment for Parotid Gland Infection is use of antibiotics, as this is the most preferred way to treat bacterial infections. In case of there is an abscess along with Parotid Gland Infection then draining of the abscess will be required.

Parotid Gland Infection in almost all the cases does not require any surgery, but it may be required if the infections are recurring or have become chronic. The surgical procedure done in such cases involves removal of a part or all of the parotid gland.

Home Remedies for Parotid Gland Infection

Some of the home remedies for treatment of Parotid Gland Infection are:

  • Drinking sufficient amount of water on a daily basis, if necessary one may add lemon to the water to increase saliva production and keep the glands free of bacteria.
  • Massaging the parotid gland is also an effective home remedy to treat Parotid Gland Infection.
  • Applying warm compresses to the affected gland also helps in great deal in treating Parotid Gland Infection at home.
  • Rinsing mouth with warm salt water regularly is also quite effective home remedy in getting rid of Parotid Gland Infection.
  • Sucking lemon candy to increase saliva flow is also an effective home remedy for treating Parotid Gland Infection naturally.

What are the Complications of Parotid Gland Infection?

Complications from Parotid Gland Infection are generally rare, but may develop if the infection is left untreated such as development of pus resulting in formation of an abscess, which may require additional treatment and draining. In case if Parotid Gland Infection is caused by a benign tumor, then there may be enlargement of the glands. In case if the tumor is malignant then it may spread to other areas quite rapidly. Complications may also occur if the infection spreads from the parotid glands to other areas of the body, which may require further more aggressive treatments. Thus, it is imperative to consult a physician as soon as you observe symptoms of an infection and get treatment so as to get rid of Parotid Gland Infection.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 12, 2022

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