Sialadenitis (Swollen Salivary Gland)


What is sialadenitis?

Sialadenitis is an inflammation of a salivary gland. Salivary glands are the glands that make saliva, which helps with swallowing and digestion and protects your teeth from bacteria. There are three main salivary glands:

  • Parotid glands in front of the ear in the cheeks
  • Submandibular glands under the chin
  • Sublingual glands under the tongue

Sialadenitis mostly affects the parotid and submandibular glands.

It can be an acute (sudden), chronic (long term), or recurrent condition. It is a rare condition.

Who gets sialadenitis?

Sialadenitis is most common among elderly adults with salivary gland stones, calcified structures that can form inside a salivary gland and block the flow of saliva into the mouth. Sialadenitis can also occur in other age groups, including infants during the first few weeks of life.

Sialadenitis affects men and women of all races equally.

It often happens in people who are sick or recovering from surgery, or people who are dehydrated, malnourished, or immunosuppressed (when your body can’t fight disease).

Symptoms and Causes

What causes sialadenitis?

Sialadenitis is usually caused by a virus or bacteria. Poor oral hygiene can contribute to getting sialadenitis.

What are the symptoms of sialadenitis?

Symptoms of sialadenitis include:

  • Enlargement, tenderness, and redness of one or more salivary glands
  • Fever (when the inflammation leads to infection)
  • Decreased saliva (a symptom of both acute and chronic sialadenitis)
  • Pain while eating
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Reddened skin
  • Swelling in the cheek and neck region

If you notice any of these symptoms you should seek medical advice from your doctor. He or she may refer you to an otolaryngologist.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is sialadenitis diagnosed?

Sialadenitis is usually diagnosed though a physical examination and a history of your symptoms. Sometimes, the glands may need to be examined with a scope.

Management and Treatment

How is sialadenitis treated?

Sialadenitis is usually first treated with an antibiotic. You will also be advised of other treatments to help with the pain and increased saliva flow. These include drinking lemon juice or sucking hard candy, using warm compresses, and gland massages.

If your sialadenitis has created an abscess, that will need to be drained also.

In rare cases, surgery may also be needed.

Outlook / Prognosis

What is the outlook for sialadenitis?

Without proper treatment, sialadenitis can develop into a severe infection, especially in elderly or sick people. It is important to see a doctor right away if you have any of the symptoms.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/29/2019.


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