Salivary gland infections affect the glands that produce saliva (spit). The infection may be due to bacteria or viruses.
There are three 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.
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 parotid salivary gland). Mumps is a rare problem today because of the MMR vaccine.
Bacterial infections are most often the result a:
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 may be painful.
A CT scan, MRI scanor ultrasound may be done if the doctor suspects an abscess.
In some cases, no treatment is needed.
Treatment from your health care provider may include:
Self-care steps you can take at home to help with recovery include:
Most salivary gland infections go away on their own or are cured with treatment. Some infections will return. Complications are not common.
Call your health care provider if:
In many cases, salivary gland infections cannot be prevented. Good oral hygiene may prevent some cases of bacterial infection.
Elluru RG. Physiology of the salivary glands. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2010:chap 84.
Rogers J, McCaffrey TV. Inflammatory disorders of the salivary glands. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2010:chap 86.
Updated by: Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Associate Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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