What Are Causes of Swelling in the Parotid Gland?

The most common cause of parotid gland swelling is salivary stones, but certain bacterial and viral infections can also be the culprit, according to WebMD. A variety of treatments, from prescription antibiotics to surgery, may be required to relieve the swelling.

The parotid glands, which produce saliva, are located on the insides of the cheeks, explains WebMD. Saliva helps with swallowing, digestion and keeping the mouth lubricated and teeth free from bacteria. In addition to swelling, symptoms of saliva gland problems include pain, fever, dry mouth and a foul-tasting discharge.

Sialoliths, also called salivary stones, are made up of crystallized saliva deposits, WebMD states. They can plug the salivary ducts, causing a blockage. If left untreated, the plugged duct will likely become infected. Treatment includes applying warm compresses to dissolve the stone and sucking on sour candies designed to create more saliva. If these treatments don't work, surgery may be required to remove the stone.

Bacterial infections often affect parotid glands in either the right or left side of the mouth, WebMD reports. Viruses usually affect both sides. A wide variety of viruses cause parotid gland swelling, including CMV, Epstein-Barr and HIV, but the most common virus linked to the condition is the one that causes mumps. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of mumps cases include swollen parotid glands.