Applied Evidence

Presentation is key to diagnosing salivary gland disorders

Author and Disclosure Information



The precise etiology of recurrent parotitis of childhood is unclear; possibly, saliva aggregates to form obstructive mucous plugs, thus causing stasis and swelling of the gland. As pressure builds, spontaneous plug extrusion occurs and symptoms resolve, provided infection is not a factor. US demonstrates multiple round, hypoechoic areas consistent with duct dilation, and surrounding infiltration by lymphocytes.1

Pus can often be expressed from the respective intraoral orifice in sialadenitis. Send expressed pus for culture to guide antibiotic therapy.

Supportive care—adequate hydration, gland massage, warm compresses, and sialogogues—are mainstays of treatment. Fever and malaise warrant treatment with oral antibiotics. Sialadenoscopy, which can be considered in children with frequent episodes, can decrease the frequency and severity of episodes.21 The condition usually resolves spontaneously at puberty.

Ask: Does the patient have dry mouth?

In-depth review of xerostomia is beyond the scope of this article. Causes include Sjögren's syndrome, immunoglobulin G4-related sialadenitis, sarcoidosis, radiation therapy, diabetes, chronic infection, and medications—in particular those with anticholinergic effects.

Treatment of xerostomia includes saliva substitutes, sialagogues, and, for oral candidiasis, antifungals. Muscarinic cholinergic stimulators, such as pilocarpine, 5 mg qid have been used with some success22; patients should be advised of potential adverse effects with these agents, including sweating, urinary frequency, flushing, and chills.

Shankar Haran, MBBS, ENT Department, Townsville Hospital, 100 Angus Smith Dr, Douglas, Queensland, Australia 4814;

Next Article: