Salivary gland infections cause inflammation in the salivary duct, leading to reduced saliva flow. These salivary gland infections are brought about by bacteria and viruses which can lead to a blocked salivary duct. It is important to have enough hydration and intravenous antibiotics to keep the infection from spreading into deep tissues of the neck and head or the bloodstream. Uncontrolled infection is dangerous and can block the airway leading to severe complications.
The ENT Clinic in Singapore is among best regarded practices for any ENT malady treating both local residents and foreigners seeking medical attention. The experienced, qualified and caring ENT doctors help to keep your worries at bay. Conveniently located at Mt. Elizabeth Novena Center and the Gleneagles Hospital, the ENT Clinic treats both children and adult ENT conditions.
What are salivary glands and their role in the human body?
Salivary glands play an important role in secreting saliva into the mouth. This saliva is secreted through salivary ducts. Saliva helps with digestion by assisting food swallowing and chewing. Saliva also prevents infections developing in the throat and mouth. The two types of salivary glands are the major salivary glands and the minor salivary glands. It is the major salivary glands which produce most of the saliva. The minor salivary glands are usually microscopic and lines the mouth and aerodigestive tract. It is present in the tongue, lining the lips and roof of mouth and saliva is produced in smaller quantities.
What are salivary gland infections?
Sialadenitis, commonly known as a salivary gland infection, is caused by bacteria and viruses. Having a salivary stone or a block in the salivary gland can lead to an acute salivary gland infection. This causes swelling and pain. When there is chronic inflammation, it can stop the salivary glands from functioning. The prevalence of salivary gland infections is high among infants and elderly who have chronic conditions. If the salivary gland infection spreads to the deep tissues of the neck and head, it may even lead to a life-threatening condition. Salivary gland infections should be taken seriously and addressed in a timely manner..
Why is it important to have a proper functioning salivary gland to prevent infection?
Oral hygiene is important for preventing salivary gland infections. Saliva helps to keep the oral cavity clean and washes down bacteria, by controlling the amount of bad bacteria thriving. If the salivary gland is not functioning well, then the amount of saliva secreted would be less. If the salivary duct is blocked, it would reduce the flow of saliva. This will lead to food particles to retain inside the mouth making it an ideal ground for bad bacteria to breed.
What are the causes of salivary gland infections?
Bacteria is the most common cause of salivary gland infections. The main bacteria responsible is Staphylococcus aureus or what is generally called staph. Other types of bacteria responsible are Escherichia coli, Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pyogenes. There could be viruses and fungi also which are responsible for such infections. For example, mumps can infect the parotid glands. In addition, viral infections due to influenza A, herpes and HIV can cause inflammation of salivary glands.
Other reasons which can cause a dry mouth includes:
- Salivary stones or a blockage in the salivary gland duct
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Not taking sufficient fluids in diet or usage of diuretics and antihistamines
It is important to maintain good oral hygiene with proper nutrition and hydration. Else one can have a weakened immune system where infections can occur.
What are the symptoms of salivary gland infections?
If one has an acute salivary gland infection, then it generally lasts for about 7 days. The severity and symptoms can vary with patients. Acute infections can lead to complications too.
The most common symptoms of salivary gland infections include:
- Redness, pain and tenderness
- Pain in mouth and neck region
- Inflammation in the salivary glands and surrounding tissues
- Fever with chills
- Pus in mouth
- Release of infectious fluid from gland
- Discomfort when swallowing
If the above symptoms are severe, seek help from an ENT physician.
Can salivary gland infections bring complications?
When salivary gland infections turn chronic, then pus can collect due to abscess formation in the salivary glands. The enlargement of the salivary glands can also happen as a possible complication. Severe parotitis can damage salivary glands. Obstruction may be caused due to malignancies too. If the salivary gland infection crosses the gland to reach the other parts of the body, it may lead to cellulitis.
How are salivary gland infections diagnosed?
The ENT doctor will take a complete review of medical history and perform a physical examination. If there is pain and pus in the mouth, it is a sign of infection. Some of the other additional tests which may be done include ultrasound scans, CT scans and a MRI scan. A biopsy from the salivary gland will help to identify the bacteria which is causing the infection.
What is the treatment for salivary gland infections?
The treatment options depend on the severity of the disease and the location of the infection. If it is a chronic infection, then specialist treatment is needed. Some of the common treatment options include:
Home remedies like gargling with salt water, keeping the mouth hydrated by increasing the amount of fluid intake can induce saliva flow to prevent infections.
Antibiotics: Bacterial infections can be managed by antibiotics
Management of chronic infections: It is important to manage chronic infections like HIV, herpes and influenza accordingly.
Surgery: If there are chronic and recurrent infections due to salivary gland stones, tumours or abnormal structures, then surgery would be suggested by the ENT doctor.