The parotid gland is very susceptible to various forms of disease due to the free access via the ear. Due to the connection to the oral cavity, this is usually also affected by inflammation. The causes of parotid gland inflammation are just as varied and should always be evaluated by a specialist.
What is parotid gland inflammation?
A disease of the parotid gland, the so-called parotid gland, is usually an inflammation. Salivary stones (sialolith) can lead to reduced salivary drainage. Here, too, the spread of the inflammation is likely. The pain caused by swelling of the parotid gland is particularly unpleasant for those affected. Due to the tight covering with a layer of connective tissue, nerve tracts are often squeezed. This can result in various functional disorders and severe pain. See ezhoushan for What does KGB Syndrome Stand for.
There are several possible causes for a disease of the parotid gland: bacterial and viral infections, autoimmune diseases, salivary stones, swelling of the salivary gland, benign and malignant tumors.
One clinical picture is the so-called mumps. Caused by the mumps virus. This is a very painful inflammation. Bacterial infection often occurs in conjunction with other diseases of the parotid gland, such as salivary stones. The blocked saliva drainage leads to a colonization with bacteria, which in turn lead to an inflammation of the same. These are usually staphylococci or streptococci. A bacterial infection can quickly develop into chronic inflammation. Prompt and consistent treatment is therefore advisable.
The parotid gland can also be affected by an autoimmune disease. This is a chronic dry mouth which, in conjunction with other symptoms, depicts the so-called Sjögren’s syndrome. Men in particular are affected by the formation of so-called salivary stones (sialithiasis). The reason for this is often altered salivation in connection with a change in saliva composition.
Painless swelling of the salivary glands usually occurs in connection with autoimmune diseases such as diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism, or hyperthyroidism. Taking certain medications can also cause swelling of the salivary glands. It can also lead to ulcers on the salivary gland.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The symptoms of parotid gland inflammation usually appear suddenly and severely. In addition, the complaints are often unilateral. Only in the case of a mumps disease, there are complaints on both sides. Even if no symptoms have yet appeared, salivary stones may already be present. From when the affected person starts to suffer from symptoms depends on the size of the stone.
In either case, the affected area swells, hurts, and becomes hard. The symptoms increase when eating, as this leads to increased salivation. The saliva in turn presses on the inflamed tissue. Due to the existing inflammatory process, the body usually also reacts with fever.
The skin around the salivary gland becomes red and warm to the touch. If the inflammation is already advanced, pus can also be discharged into the mouth. If the parotid gland disease is just a salivary stone, it can also have no symptoms. However, this area is growing.
Diagnosis & course of disease
A thorough examination of the salivary gland is necessary for the diagnosis. In order to differentiate whether it is just a salivary stone or already an inflammation, the doctor will take a thorough anamnesis. If pus escapes into the mouth when palpating the gland, this is further evidence of an existing inflammation. The doctor will take a swab from the substance and start a laboratory test.
In this way, the bacteria responsible for the inflammation can be determined. A further examination of the oral cavity is also indicated, as this could provide clues as to the cause of the disease. A blood test is also possible. In order to be able to differentiate between a salivary stone, abscess or tumor, the doctor will order an ultrasound examination. Also the use of an MRI, CT or an endoscopyare possible research methods. Another imaging technique is sialography. The doctor injects a contrast medium. The duct systems of the salivary gland can be shown in the subsequent X-ray image. In this way, information about the size and position of salivary stones can be obtained.
As a rule, patients suffer from severe swelling due to parotitis. This can also occur on both sides of the head and reduces the quality of life enormously. There is also fever and a general feeling of illness. The patients feel weak and exhausted and also suffer from the symptoms of a flu-like infection.
There is also reddening and heating of the skin and salivary glands due to parotitis. Pus can drain from the mouth if the disease is not treated. In most cases, parotitis does not lead to any special complications. Direct treatment is not necessary in every case either, so that in some cases the parotitis can proceed completely without symptoms.
The treatment of parotitis is carried out with the help of antibiotics and is usually successful relatively quickly. There are no complications either. The patient’s life expectancy is also not negatively affected by parotitis.
When should you go to the doctor?
Pain in and around the ears should be evaluated by a doctor. Taking pain medication is not recommended without consulting a doctor. Complications and sequelae can occur, which further weaken your health. Decreased hearing is a concern and needs to be seen by a doctor. It is irrelevant whether the irregularities are unilateral or bilateral. The formation of pus is an alarming sign.
If an unpleasant taste is noticed in the mouth or if the inflammation is spreading, a doctor must be consulted. If the course of the disease is unfavorable, sepsis can occur, which is life-threatening for those affected. If an increase in symptoms is noticed with increased salivation, a doctor’s visit is advisable.
After eating or in other stimulating situations, the flow of saliva is stimulated. This will irritate the inflamed areas. An inner restlessness, feeling unwell, disturbances of the concentration as well as an increased body temperature are further indications of a health impairment. A doctor’s visit is necessary so that a diagnosis can be made and medical care can take place. Swelling in the area of the ears also indicates a disease that needs to be clarified.
Treatment & Therapy
The therapy always depends on the trigger of the inflammation. In general, it is advantageous to stimulate the flow of saliva and thus flush the glands. Sour lozenges and candies as well as liquids such as lemon juice help with this. If bacterial infection occurs, an antibiotic will be prescribed. In the case of a viral infestation, painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs can help.
In this case, too, thorough oral hygiene and flushing of the gland should be ensured. Abscesses and tumors can only be removed by surgery. Salivary stones, on the other hand, can be loosened by a so-called duct slit and massage if they are in the initial area. Deep stones with a maximum size of eight millimeters or those that cannot be felt can be treated by the doctor using targeted ultrasound. In the best case, these break up and are transported to the outside via the saliva. Larger stones should also be surgically removed.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis of parotitis is favorable in most cases. If the disease is weak, the person affected can initiate recovery independently. In these cases, the flow of saliva must be stimulated. This can be done independently through the intake of food. The increased salivation helps to alleviate the symptoms and can bring about spontaneous healing. In principle, cooperation with a doctor should also be sought in the case of minor complaints in order to determine the stage of the parotid gland disease and to be able to react immediately to any changes.
If the symptoms are more severe, medication will be given. The active ingredients administered help to kill the pathogens. They are then transported through the body’s bloodstream and excreted. Within a short time, the symptoms are alleviated and after a few days or weeks, freedom from symptoms is documented.
If the course of the disease is very unfavorable, the medication administered will have no effect. If the pathogens have already spread widely or if the patient is at risk, surgical intervention may be necessary. An operation for this disease involves only a few movements, so that possible complications are very few. After the wound healing process, the affected person is usually released from the treatment within a few weeks as symptom-free, even with this procedure.
The greatest risk of inflammation of the salivary gland is due to the formation of salivary stones. This can be easily prevented by paying attention to drinking enough and thorough oral hygiene. In order to clean the salivary glands, it is advisable to stimulate the flow of saliva with sugar-free sweets. In this way, existing small stones can also be rinsed out.
In the case of parotitis, those affected usually only have a few and only limited options and measures for direct aftercare. For this reason, with this disease, a doctor must be consulted very early in order to prevent the occurrence of other complications and disorders. It is also not possible for parotitis to heal itself, so that the person affected is always dependent on medical examination and treatment.
Most of those affected are dependent on taking various medications for the disease. Antibiotics are also often taken, although the person concerned should take care not to take them together with alcohol. In general, it is also important to ensure that the dosage is correct and that the medication is taken regularly in order to permanently relieve the symptoms.
Regular check-ups by a doctor are also very important, since surgery may also be necessary. After such an operation, the affected area must be protected particularly well so that infections or inflammation do not occur. As a rule, parotitis does not reduce the life expectancy of the person affected. Other measures and options for aftercare are not available to the patient.
You can do that yourself
The drug treatment of parotitis can be positively supported with some home remedies. Patients should make sure they eat soft food and drink enough fluids during therapy. This type of diet relieves the salivary glands and offers good prevention of salivary dryness.
Cooling compresses, for example, can provide pain relief. In the case of more intense pain, painkillers, so-called “rheumatic drugs” (for example: active ingredient Diclofenac) can be used. Consumption of sour candies or sour drinks (e.g. lemon juice) is said to speed up the secretion of saliva. A massage of the affected parotid gland has the same effect. This prevents the formation of salivary stones. Existing, smaller salivary stones can also be secreted in this way. Doctors also recommend chewing sugar-free gum to support therapy.
After each meal, patients should clean their teeth intensively to ensure adequate oral hygiene. In addition, patients should also use mouthwash to clean hard-to-reach areas of the mouth with a toothbrush . Patients with acute parotitis are advised to give the body enough rest. Irradiation with the red light also brings about an improvement.