There are many causes. It depends whether the illness is acute or chronic. The most common causes of parotitis are:

  • Bacterial infection
  • A viral infection, such as mumps
  • Blockage of saliva flow

Risk Factors

Parotitis is more common in older adults and newborns. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Dehydration
  • Recent surgery
  • Certain health problems, such as:
    • Diabetes
    • HIV infection
    • Sjogren syndrome
  • Blocked saliva flow from:
    • Salivary stone in the parotid gland
    • Mucus plug in a salivary duct
    • Tumor
  • Mental health problems, such as depression or eating disorders
  • Use of certain medicines
  • Radiation therapy for head and neck cancer



Acute parotitis may cause:

  • Sudden pain and swelling that gets worse with eating
  • Redness
  • Pus that may drain into the mouth

Chronic parotitis may cause:

  • Swelling around the parotid gland
  • Dry mouth
  • Milky discharge in the mouth

Chronic parotitis can destroy the salivary glands.


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This may be enough to make a diagnosis.

Tests may include a blood test and a fluid sample from the parotid gland.

Pictures may be taken of the area. These may be done with:

  • Ultrasound
  • Sialography to view the ducts in and around the parotid gland
  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan



The goals of treatment are to treat the cause of the parotitis and ease symptoms. The doctor may advise:

  • Supportive care, such as warm water rinses and good oral hygiene
  • Medicines such as:
    • Antibiotics to treat infection
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs to ease swelling and pain
  • Surgery to remove anything that may be blocking saliva flow


Good oral hygiene may lower the risk of acute parotitis.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.