salivary glands, inflammation of

Usually in the parotid (under and in front of the ear) or submandibular (under the jaw) glands. The cause is usually viral or bacterial, sometimes blockage of a salivary duct (by a stone, for example). The best-known inflammation of the salivary glands is probably mumps (parotitis), a viral infection of the parotid gland. Salivary gland inflammation is characterized by swelling and tenderness of the affected gland; with the parotid gland it is in the cheek, in front of the ear and down to the edge of the lower jaw, in the case of the submandibular gland under the edge of the lower jaw and at the corner of the jaw. Saliva production may decrease, with a dry mouth as symptom. Examination is directed at establishing the presence of a stone which may be causing a blockage, and distinguishing inflammation from a salivary gland tumour, which would also cause swelling. In children with a clear case of mumps such examination is usually superfluous. Viral inflammation requires no specific treatment, bacterial inflammation can be treated with antibiotics, and a stone must be removed surgically.