The parotid gland is very susceptible to various forms of disease due to its free access through the ear. Due to the connection to the oral cavity, it is usually also affected by inflammation. The causes of a Parotid gland inflammation are just as varied and should always be assessed by a specialist.
What is parotid gland inflammation?The symptoms of inflammation of the parotid gland usually come on suddenly and severely. In addition, the symptoms are often one-sided. Only if you have mumps are there symptoms on both sides.
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With a disease of the parotid gland, the so-called Parotid gland, it is usually an inflammation. Saliva stones (sialolite) can lead to a reduction in the outflow of saliva. Again, the inflammation is likely to spread. The pain caused by swelling of the parotid gland is particularly uncomfortable for those affected. Because of the tight covering with a layer of connective tissue, nerve tracts are often pinched off. This can result in various functional disorders and severe pain.
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. Triggered by the mumps virus. This is a very painful inflammation. Bacterial infection is often associated with other diseases of the parotid gland, such as salivary stones. The blocked saliva drainage leads to a siege with bacteria, which in turn lead to an inflammation of the same. Most of them are staphylococci or streptococci. A bacterial infection can quickly develop into chronic inflammation. Timely 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, represents 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 a change in saliva formation in connection with a change in the saliva composition.
Painless swelling of the salivary glands is usually associated with autoimmune diseases such as diabetes mellitus or an overactive thyroid, hyperthyroidism. The use of certain medications can also cause the salivary gland to swell. It can also lead to ulcers on the salivary gland.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
The symptoms of inflammation of the parotid gland usually come on suddenly and severely. In addition, the symptoms are often one-sided. Only if you have mumps are there symptoms on both sides. Even if no symptoms have occurred yet, salivary stones may already be present. The point at which the person concerned begins to suffer from symptoms depends on the size of the stone.
In any case, the affected area swells, hurts and becomes hard. The symptoms increase when eating meals, as this leads to increased salivation. In turn, the saliva presses on the inflamed tissue. Due to the existing inflammatory process, the body usually also reacts with a fever.
The skin around the salivary gland turns red and feels warm. If the inflammation is already advanced, pus may also drain into the mouth. If the parotid gland disease is just a salivary stone, it can be without symptoms. Nevertheless, this area is swelling.
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 saliva stone or already an inflammation, the doctor will take a thorough anamnesis. If pus leaks into your mouth when you palpate the gland, it is further evidence of inflammation. The doctor will swab the substance and conduct 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 salivary stone, abscess or tumor, the doctor will order an ultrasound examination. The use of an MRI, CT or endoscopy are also possible examination 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, knowledge about the size and location of salivary stones can be obtained.
Usually, patients experience severe swelling due to parotitis. This can also occur on both sides of the head and greatly reduces the quality of life. Furthermore, there is also a fever and a general feeling of illness. The patients feel weak and exhausted and suffer from the symptoms of a flu-like infection.
In addition, the skin and the salivary gland are reddened and heated by the parotitis. Pus can drain in the mouth if left untreated. In most cases, parotitis does not lead to particular complications. Direct treatment is also not necessary in every case, so that in some cases the parotitis can be complete without symptoms.
The treatment of parotitis is done with the help of antibiotics and usually leads to success relatively quickly. There are also no complications. The life expectancy of the patient 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 a pain medication is not recommended without consulting a doctor. Complications and secondary diseases can occur, which result in a further deterioration in health. Hearing impairment is worrying and should be presented to 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 has spread, a doctor must be consulted. An unfavorable course of the disease can lead to sepsis, which puts the person affected at risk. If you notice an increase in symptoms with increased saliva formation, a visit to a doctor is advisable.
After eating or in other stimulating situations, the flow of saliva is stimulated. This will irritate the inflamed areas. An inner restlessness, malaise, disturbances of concentration as well as an increased body temperature are further signs 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
Therapy is always based on what triggered the inflammation. It is generally beneficial to stimulate the flow of saliva and thus flush the glands through. Sour lozenges and sweets as well as liquids such as lemon juice help here. An antibiotic is prescribed for bacterial infestation. In the event of a viral attack, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs can be helped.
In this case too, thorough oral hygiene and rinsing of the gland should be ensured. Abscesses and tumors can only be removed through surgery. Salivary stones, on the other hand, can be loosened by so-called passage slitting and massages if they are in the exit area. Deeper stones with a maximum size of eight millimeters or those that cannot be felt can be treated by the doctor with targeted sonication. In the best case, these break and are transported to the outside via the saliva. Larger stones should also be surgically removed.
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Outlook & forecast
The prognosis for parotitis is favorable in most cases. If the disease is weak, the person affected can independently initiate a recovery. In these cases, the flow of saliva must be stimulated. This can be done independently by ingesting food. The increased salivation helps to relieve the symptoms and can cause spontaneous healing. In principle, cooperation with a doctor should be sought even 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.
In the case of more pronounced symptoms, medication is given. The active ingredients administered help kill the pathogens. They are then removed and excreted in the organism's bloodstream. The symptoms are alleviated within a short period of time and after a few days or weeks, the absence of symptoms is documented.
In the case of a very unfavorable course of the disease, the medication administered has no effect. If the pathogens have already spread widely or if the patient is at risk, surgery may be necessary. In this disease, an operation is connected with a few simple steps, so that possible complications are very low. After the wound healing process, the person affected is usually discharged from treatment within a few weeks as symptom-free, even with this approach.
The greatest risk of salivary gland inflammation is from the formation of salivary stones.This can easily be prevented by ensuring that you drink enough fluids and that you have thorough oral hygiene. To cleanse the salivary glands, it is recommended to stimulate the flow of saliva with sugar-free candies. Small stones that are already present can also be rinsed out.
In the case of parotitis, the person affected usually has only a few and only limited options and measures for direct follow-up care. For this reason, a doctor must be seen very early in this disease to prevent the occurrence of other complications and complaints. Parotitis cannot heal itself either, so that the person concerned is always dependent on a medical examination and treatment.
Most of those affected depend on taking various medications for the disease. Antibiotics are also often taken, although the person concerned should be careful not to take them with alcohol. In general, the correct dosage and regular intake of the medication should also be ensured in order to relieve the symptoms over the long term.
Regular checkups by a doctor are also very important, as surgery may also be necessary. After such an operation, the affected area must be particularly well protected so that there are no infections or inflammations. The parotitis usually does not reduce the life expectancy of the person affected. Other measures and options for follow-up care are not available to the patient.
You can do that yourself
The drug treatment of parotitis can be supported positively with some home remedies. Patients should therefore pay attention to soft food and sufficient fluid intake during therapy. This type of diet relieves the salivary glands and offers good prevention of salivary dryness.
Cooling compresses can provide pain relief, for example. In the case of more intense pain, pain relievers, so-called "rheumatic drugs" (for example: active ingredient diclofenac) can be used. The consumption of sour candy or acidic drinks (for example lemon juice) is said to accelerate the secretion of saliva. Massage of the affected parotid gland has the same effect. This will prevent the formation of salivary stones. Already existing, smaller salivary stones can also be secreted in this way. Doctors also recommend chewing sugar-free gum as a therapy aid.
Patients should thoroughly clean their teeth after each meal to ensure adequate oral hygiene. In addition, patients should also use mouthwash to clean hard-to-reach places in the mouth with a toothbrush. Patients with acute parotitis are advised to give the body adequate rest. Irradiation with the red light also brings an improvement.