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Parotitis is an inflammation of the parotid gland, the largest of the salivary glands. The latter are located below and in front of each ear, behind the mandible, and play a role in the production of saliva in the mouth. The most common parotitis is punctual and of viral origin, as is the case of the mumps. But it can also be caused by a bacterial infection, and its evolution can also be chronic. Most of the time, parotitis appears in children and disappears quickly.


Parotitis is characterized by the swelling of the gland. It is often responsible for some sharp pain felt on the lower part of the jaw, which can spread to the ear. Heat at this level is increased, and redness may be visible. Dry mouth and a slight fever may accompany these symptoms. Chewing is usually painful. Most of the time, the infection affects both parotid glands, but symptoms can appear alternately between one and the other.


The identification of parotitis is made by observing the signs described above. The diagnosis of the disease causing the inflammation is more delicate. In the case of swelling with signs of inflammation and fever, the diagnosis of parotitis is almost certain. In case of doubt in the adult, an ultrasound can sometimes be performed. If parotitis affects only one side, lasts abnormally long or evolves in spurts, the diagnosis of chronic parotitis is possible, and ultrasound is performed to help diagnosis.


Given these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor quickly to avoid any complications, and otherwise ensure that there is not a more severe disease hiding behind. There is no specific treatment for viral parotitis (mumps) aside from taking analgesics to relieve pain. As for bacterial parotitis, oral antibiotics (by prescription), in combination with oral care (antiseptic mouthwashes), is an effective solution. Chronic parotitis can also be treated with antibiotics.

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