Sialadenitis, or salivary gland inflammation, is an often painful bacterial infection of a salivary gland. The condition, which most commonly affects the parotid gland, may result when the duct into the mouth is blocked. Sialadenitis creates a painful lump in the gland, and foul-tasting pus drains into the mouth.
Sialadenitis most commonly affects older adults with salivary stones, but can also occur in babies during the first few weeks after birth. Those who have xerostomia (chronic dry mouth), or suffer from anorexia, may also be prone to the condition.
Swelling, pain, fever, and chills are frequently reported symptoms of the disease. If left untreated, salivary gland infections can cause extreme pain, increased fever, and pus collection.
Sialadenitis may be subdivided temporally into acute, chronic, and recurrent forms. Predisposing factors of acute sialadenitis include decreased flow, poor oral hygiene, and exacerbation of low grade chronic sialadenitis. Common symptoms are painful swelling, reddened skin, low grade fever, malaise, leucoytosis, edema of the cheek, and purulent exudates from duct punctum.
With each infection of the salivary glands comes a risk of scarring in the gland, especially in the ducts of the gland, causing narrowing of the duct. When this happens the saliva can be blocked behind the area of narrowing, and lead to recurrent swelling of the gland. This progresses over time and can eventually be quite painful. When this problem starts to recur over and over again, it is called chronic sialadenitis. Patients suffering from chronic sialadenitis often experience mild pain and swelling. The duct orifice is reddened, and flow decreases. Patients may or may not also have visible/palpable stone. Some patients also report recurrent and painful swellings of the parotid gland.
Salivary Gland Surgery & Treatment
The best way to prevent this problem is to increase your water intake, and treat the salivary gland infection immediately. For those with chronic sialadenitis that is very symptomatic, a surgical removal of the gland may be the only treatment option that will provide sufficient results. For these patients, we recommend a superficial parotidectomy or submandibular gland excision, forms of salivary gland surgery.
However, not all patients require salivary gland surgery; most patients respond very well with a simple course of antibiotics, increased water intake, massaging the area of the gland in order to squeeze the infected saliva out of the gland, and warm compresses. In the rare and complicated cases where the facial nerve may become inflamed or even paralyzed, immediate attention, and potentially surgical drainage, is needed.
Because the symptoms of sialadenitis are similar to those of other illnesses, a thorough examination by an experienced Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist is needed. Dr. Larian provides a number of safe and innovative treatment options for his patients. If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Larian, give us a call at (310) 461-0300 today!
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