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Salivary Gland Infections
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Salivary gland infections affect the glands or ducts that produce and carry saliva They are located on either side of the face and neck. Salivary gland infections are called sialadenitis. These infections may be caused by either bacteria or viruses. All ages, including infants, are at risk for sialadenitis, but sialadenitis is most common in the elderly.

The most common cause of sialadenitis is staphylococcus aureus bacteria, but viruses or even fungi can also cause sialadentitis. Infections often result from a blockage of the salivary gland duct. Blockages occur when protein and minerals in saliva settle and form sediment and stones which obstruct saliva flowing the ducts and glands. This blockage results in inflammation and infection. 

We have four major salivary glands: two parotid and two submandibular glands. The major salivary glands in the cheeks are the parotid glands. These glands deliver their saliva through a duct that empties in the outer wall of the mouth just behind the upper 2nd molar tooth. The submandibular glands are located beneath the lower jaw. The submandibular ducts deliver saliva along the inner jawline and empty just below the tongue.  

Sialadenitis results in pain, hard swelling around the salivary gland, making it tender and red. It may result in fever and chills, and foul infected drainage from the gland at emptying sites listed above. Other symptoms may include a dry and painful mouth, a weird taste that doesnt seem to go away, and discomfort and increased swelling while eating or opening your mouth.

It is crucial to go to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. An exam will be performed to determine the causes and to diagnose the infection properly. An ultrasound or CT scan can help see if there is a blockage or salivary stone present.

Once you have been diagnosed with a salivary gland infection, the treatment will depend upon your needs and symptoms. Typically an antibiotic can help treat the infection and help to stop it from spreading to other parts of the body. Sometimes a fine needle can drain the fluids as well. Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated will also help speed up the recovery.

If the body does not respond to antibiotics and hydration, surgery may be an option. A sialoendoscopy may remove the salivary stone or sedimentation. This surgery works best on small stones. Other times hybridized surgery can remove the larger stones and preserve the salivary gland.

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