Disease, Condition & InjuryHead & neck conditionsNeck


(Epidemic Parotitis)

Mumps – Definition

Mumps is a viral infection. The infection causes fever and swelling of the parotid glands. Because of the mumps vaccine, this condition is not as common as it once was in the US.

Mumps – Causes

The virus is usually spread through contact with an infected person’s saliva. The mumps virus is highly contagious. It spreads easily among people in close contact.

Mumps – Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of developing mumps:

  • Being exposed to unvaccinated people or to people who have mumps
  • Being born after 1956 and never having mumps, or not being vaccinated after first birthday
  • Age: 10-19
  • Season: winter
  • Having a weakened immune system, even if you have been vaccinated

Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.

Mumps – Symptoms

About one third of cases have no symptoms at all. Symptoms often occur 2-3 weeks after exposure to the virus.

Mumps may cause:

  • Painful swelling of the parotid glands (under the cheeks and jaw)
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness

Other areas may also be affected, such as:

  • Swelling and pain under the tongue, jaw, or front of the chest
  • In males: painful inflammation of the testicles
  • In females: inflammation of the ovaries, which results in pain or tenderness in the abdomen

Mumps – Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and personal medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will diagnose the mumps based on these findings.

Mumps – Treatment

There is no specific treatment for mumps. Mumps is caused by a virus. Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics. Do not treat mumps with aspirin.

Note: Do not give aspirin to children or teens with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving a child aspirin.

In general, mumps will last about 10-12 days. Try these comfort measures:

  • Apply hot or cold compresses to swollen areas.
  • Gargle with warm salt water to soothe sore throat.
  • Treat high fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Drink plenty of liquids. Avoid tart or acidic drinks (eg, orange juice, lemonade).
  • Eat a soft, bland diet.

Mumps – Complications

In most healthy children, complications are rare. When complications do occur, they include:

  • Deafness (may not be permanent)
  • Swelling or infection of the brain, pancreas, heart, or other organs
  • Testicular inflammation (may occur in up to 20% of adolescent boys and men)
  • Problems with male fertility (sterility is rare)

Mumps – Prevention

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent mumps. The vaccine contains live viruses that can no longer cause disease. The mumps vaccine is usually given in combination with:

  • Measles and rubella vaccine (MMR)
  • Measles, rubella, and varicella (chicken pox) vaccine (MMRV)

The regular schedule for giving the vaccine is at age 12-15 months and again at age 4-6 years.

Ask your doctor if the vaccine is right for you. In general, avoid the vaccine if you:

  • Have had severe allergic reactions to vaccines or vaccine components
  • Are pregnant — Avoid pregnancy for 1-3 months after receiving the vaccine.
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Have a high fever or severe upper respiratory tract infection

If you are not vaccinated, avoid contact with someone who has mumps. Discuss the benefits of vaccination with your doctor.

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