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What is an infected parotid gland?

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A parotid gland infection occurs when bacteria or viral agents attack the glands in the cheeks, which produce saliva, according to MedlinePlus. The resulting inflammation is known as parotitis. Viral gland infections are caused by viruses, such as the mumps. Bacteria gland infections are most often caused by blocked salivary ducts, smoking, low bodily water content, poor oral hygiene or chronic illness.

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Saliva normally clears many bacteria and food particles out of the mouth and helps maintain the balance between harmful and beneficial oral bacteria, Healthline states. A blocked or inflamed salivary duct reduces saliva and restricts its flow, interfering with this cleaning system. Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus viridans, Escherichia coli, Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pyogenes commonly infect the parotid glands, while HIV, the flu, sarcoidosis and Sjogren’s syndrome may lead to the condition.

Symptoms of a salivary gland infection overlap with other conditions and may include dry mouth, a foul taste, oral or facial pain, pus and difficulty opening the mouth, according to Healthline. Some people develop redness and swelling above the jaw, on the face and neck, or on the bottom of the mouth. They may also have a fever and chills. Doctors recommend rinsing the mouth with salt water, applying warm compresses and drinking about 10 glasses of water a day to relieve pain and manage the infection.

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