Unlike acute sialadenitis, chronic sialadenitis, also known as chronic inflammation of the salivary glands, is likely to be caused by an obstruction than an infection in the said salivary glands.
Causes & Symptoms of Chronic Sialadenitis
The obstruction can be caused by scar tissue, stones (salivary calculi) or in rare cases tumours. Regardless of what’s causing it, the obstruction leads to decreased flow of saliva and chronic inflammation. Chronic sialadenitis mostly affects the parotid gland.
Symptoms of chronic sialadenitis include:
- Tenderness and mild swelling over the affected gland
- The gland may initially be enlarged then decrease in size
- Pain in the area of the gland while eating
Diagnosis of Chronic Sialadenitis
Chronic sialadenitis is diagnosed in as similar manner as acute sialadenitis but the difference is that emphasis is placed on identifying and treating its underlying cause. Imaging with ultrasound or a CT scan is usually helpful with the diagnosis. Also, during examination by a doctor, if the affected gland is massaged, it will usually not produce any saliva.
Treatment Options for Sialadenitis
When the underlying cause of chronic sialadenitis is diagnosed, treatment is usually focused on reversing the underlying cause of the condition. In the case of an obstruction, surgery may be performed to remove it. If no obstruction is found, treatment consists of massage, hydration and sometimes medications to reduce inflammation. Sucking on cough drops or lozenges may also help to restore the flow of saliva. In rare and severe cases, the entire salivary gland may need to be surgically removed.
Other Similar Conditions
There are other conditions which are associated with or may cause similar symptoms as sialadenitis. Your doctor will usually need to rule these out before making a sialadenitis diagnosis and recommending treatment.
Some these conditions include:
Recurrent Parotitis of Childhood
One condition which typically occurs in children is the recurrent parotitis of childhood. Although the exact cause of this condition is not known, it usually occurs only in children and they grow out of it by the time they reach puberty. Recurrent parotitis of childhood is characterized by repeated episodes of swelling of the parotid gland (usually on one side). The welling is accompanied by other symptoms such as malaise and fever.
Treatment for recurrent parotitis of childhood is similar to that of sialadenitis, and might include:
- Massaging warm compresses over the gland to stimulate saliva flow
- Proper hydration
- Sucking on vitamin C drops or cough drops
- Antibiotics can occasionally be prescribed.
The episodes of recurrent parotitis of childhood can occur every few months and last a few days to a couple of weeks.
Salivary Duct stones or Sialolithiasis
Another related condition is the salivary duct stones or sialolithiasis. This condition can occur by itself or can lead to sialadenitis. Stones in the salivary ducts are formed by the minerals found in saliva such as proteins, salts and calcium carbonate.
The salivary duct stones can be palpated (felt by the doctor on examination), but they are usually diagnosed through an ultrasound or CT scan. The stones usually need to be surgically removed.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service, from initial consultation through to final diagnosis and treatment and beyond. Our team of expert doctors and nurses are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you might have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.
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