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Condition Basics

What is parotitis?

Parotitis is a swelling of your parotid glands. These are salivary glands located between the ear and jaw. Causes can include viral and bacterial infections. It can also be caused by certain health conditions, a tumor, or salivary gland stones. Parotitis can be acute (happen suddenly) or chronic (lasting weeks to months).

What are the symptoms?

Parotitis symptoms often depend on the cause. Common symptoms include a fever and painful swollen glands on one or both sides of your face. You may have pain while chewing, a dry mouth, or trouble opening your mouth. Acute parotitis often causes very tender parotid glands. Chronic parotitis causes less pain.

How is parotitis treated?

Treatment of parotitis often includes massage, heat, or sucking on lemon-flavored candy. Other treatments depend on the cause of parotitis. If it's an infection caused by a bacteria, it may be treated with an antibiotic.

Sometimes parotitis is caused by another condition, such as an immune system problem or diabetes. In that case, treatment is focused on managing that condition and treating the symptoms.

If other treatments don't work, you may need a stone removed. Or you may need surgery to remove the parotid gland. This is called parotidectomy.

How can you care for yourself?

Here are some ways to take care of yourself:

  • Use an over-the-counter pain medicine if needed, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Use heat on the swollen jaw for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the heat and your skin.
  • To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Eat soft foods that don't have to be chewed much.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed.
  • Prevent tooth problems. Brush and floss your teeth every day. Get regular dental checkups.
  • If you smoke, quit or cut back as much as you can. Talk to your doctor if you need help quitting.

Related Information


Current as of: November 27, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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