The parotid gland is the largest of the salivary glands in the human body. There are actually two of them, and when one or both of them becomes inflamed, that condition is known as parotitis. Parotitis is most commonly caused by the mumps, but since mumps is now so widely vaccinated against, instances of mumps parotitis have been dramatically reduced.
Duct blockage and bacterial infections are also causes. Sometimes, stones can form in these ducts, and they need to be removed. This condition can be very painful, and its diagnosis (and subsequent treatment) is rendered even more important by the fact that tumors also form in this gland.
Though the majority of tumors that form in the parotid gland are benign, fifteen to twenty percent of them are malignant. Surgery to remove these kinds of tumors is often very extensive because of the facial nerves also located in that region of the body. In the event that the blockage in your ducts is simply caused by a stone and not a tumor, removal is often much easier. In fact, this removal can sometimes be performed in clinic. In rare cases, these stones need to be removed via surgery, though lithotripsy (best known for its use in the removal of kidney stones) is now being used to remove some of these types of stones as well.
If you are experiencing swelling in the top of your neck below your jaw line, or if you are experiencing pain while you’re salivating or chewing, then you should visit with an ENT specialist. In the vast majority of cases, treatment will be rather simple for you. However, as we’ve explained, some cases will require more extensive treatment. In those cases, the sooner any potential problems are treated, the better your prognosis is going to be.
If you have questions about the parotid glands, contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see an ear nose throat specialist.