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Women's & Children's Hospital



Parotitis is inflammation in one or both of the parotid glands. These are 2 large salivary glands that are inside each cheek over the jaw in front of each ear.

Parotitis can be:

  • Acute—inflammation that resolves in a short period of time with or without treatment
  • Chronic—includes persistent inflammation or alternating periods of flare-ups and remission
Parotid Gland
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An inflamed parotid gland has several causes. These vary depending on whether the condition is acute or chronic. The most common causes include:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Mumps
  • Other viral infections
  • Blockage of saliva flow
  • Autoimmune diseases

Risk Factors

This condition is more common in older adults. Other factors that may increase your chance of parotitis include:


Acute parotitis may cause:

  • Sudden facial pain and swelling that worsens with salivation or after eating
  • Redness and tenderness
  • Pus that may drain into the mouth

Chronic parotitis may cause:

  • Swelling around the parotid gland
  • Dry mouth
  • Milky secretions
  • Strange or foul taste in your mouth
  • Fever, chills, and other signs of infection

Chronic parotitis can destroy the salivary glands.


You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. This may be enough to make a diagnosis. Tests may include a blood test and a fluid sample from the parotid gland.

Imaging tests evaluate the parotid gland and surrounding structures. These may include:


Treatment depends on what is causing the parotitis. Options may include:

Good Oral Hygiene

Flossing and thorough tooth brushing at least twice per day may help with healing. Warm salt-water rinses can help keep the mouth moist. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways you can quit.


Medications may include:

  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections (antibiotics are not effective for viral infections)
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs to manage inflammation and pain

Blockage Removal

Your doctor may need to remove a stone, tumor, or other blockage. Increasing saliva flow may be all that is needed to remove a mucus plug.


To help reduce your chances of parotitis:

  • Get prompt treatment for any infections.
  • See your dentist for proper oral care as recommended.
  • Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to avoid dehydration.
  • Receive the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination if you have not yet been vaccinated

Revision Information

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

  • Health Canada

  • Public Health Agency of Canada

  • Acute suppurative parotitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated June 21, 2010. Accessed June 10, 2015.

  • Cain A. Parotitis. Net Doctor website. Available at: Updated October 4, 2005. Accessed June 10, 2015.

  • Chitre VV, Premchandra DJ. Review: recurrent parotitis. Arch Dis Child. 1997;77:359-363.

  • Wilson KF, Meier JD, et al. Salivary gland disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2014;9(11):882-888.