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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Other Names for this Disease
  • Adenitis, salivary gland
  • Salivary gland inflammation
  • Sialoadenitis
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Your Question

I have just been diagnosed with sialadenitis. What is the standard treatment? Any information you could provide about this condition would be appreciated.

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is sialadenitis?

Sialadenitis is an infection of the salivary glands. It is usually caused by a virus or bacteria.[1][2] The parotid (in front of the ear) and submandibular (under the chin) glands are most commonly affected.[1] Sialadenitis may be associated with pain, tenderness, redness, and gradual, localized swelling of the affected area. There are both acute and chronic forms.[3] Although it is quite common among elderly adults with salivary gland stones, sialadenitis can also occur in other age groups, including infants during the first few weeks of life. Without proper treatment, sialadenitis can develop into a severe infection, especially in people who are debilitated or elderly.[2] 
Last updated: 9/4/2010

What causes sialadenitis?

Sialadenitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection.[1][2] The most common organism is Staphylococcus aureus. Other bacterial organisms include Streptococcus viridans, Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Escherichia coli.[2][4] Bacterial infections often result from reduced flow from the salivary glands which can lead to overgrowth of the oral flora.[1][4] Saliva flow can be reduced in people who are sick or recovering from surgery, dehydrated, malnourished, immunosuppressed, or the elderly. A stone or a kink in the salivary duct can also diminish saliva flow, as can certain medications (antihistamines, diuretics, psychiatric medications, beta-blockers, barbiturates). Diseases that reduce salivary flow (such as Sjogren's syndrome) and certain occupations (trumpet playing, glass blowing) may also lead to sialadenitis. People being treated for cancer may also be susceptible to this infection.[1][2][4]

Although less common than bacteria, several viruses have also been implicated in sialadenitis. These include the mumps virus, HIV, coxsackievirus, parainfluenza types I and II, influenza A, and herpes.[4][5]
Last updated: 9/4/2010

What symptoms may be associated with sialadenitis?

Sialadenitis may cause a tender, painful lump in one cheek or under the chin. Pus may drain through the gland into the mouth. If the infection spreads, fever, chills and malaise (a general sick feeling) may occur.[1]
Last updated: 9/4/2010

How might sialadenitis be treated?

Treatment is not always necessary. If there is pus or a fever, or if the infection is known or thought to be bacterial, antibiotics may be prescribed. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections. If there is an abscess, surgical drainage or aspiration may be done. Good oral hygiene, with thorough tooth brushing and flossing at least twice per day, may aid healing and help prevent an infection from spreading. Smokers are encouraged to stop smoking, as it helps in recovery. Warm salt water rinses (1/2 teaspoon of salt in one cup of water) may be soothing and keep the mouth moist. Drinking lots of water and using sugar-free lemon drops may help to increase the flow of saliva and reduce swelling. Massaging the gland with heat may also help.[5]

Additional details about the treatment of sialadenitis can be accessed by clicking here.

Last updated: 9/4/2010

What is the prognosis for individuals with sialadenitis?

With prompt diagnosis and appropriate and aggressive treatment, the outlook is very good.[1] Patients with chronic sialadenitis often have a relapsing and remitting course.[4] Complications are not common, but they may occur. Complications may include:[4][5]


Last updated: 9/4/2010