Parotitis: Care Instructions

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Location of the salivary glands in the jaw

Your Care Instructions

Parotitis is a painful swelling of your parotid glands, which are salivary glands located between the ear and jaw. The most common cause is a virus, such as mumps, herpes, or Epstein-Barr. Bacterial infections, diabetes, tumours or stones in the saliva glands, and tooth problems also may cause parotitis.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Use an over-the-counter pain medicine if needed, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Put an ice or heat pack (whichever feels better) on the swollen jaw for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice or heat pack and the skin.
  • Suck on ice chips or ice treats such as Popsicles. Eat soft foods that do not have to be chewed much. Do not eat sour foods or liquids. If your salivary glands are very sore, eating these foods will usually cause them to hurt more.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

To prevent tooth problems

  • Brush and floss every day, and have regular dental checkups.
  • Eat a healthy diet, and avoid sugary foods and drinks.
  • Do not smoke or use spit tobacco. Tobacco use slows your ability to heal. It also increases your risk for gum disease and cancer of the mouth and throat. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of worsening infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • You have new pain, or the pain gets worse.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not feel better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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