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.
Swollen Parotid Gland
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.
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.
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)
- Sore throat
- Stiff neck
- Nausea and vomiting
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
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.
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.
In most healthy children, complications are rare. When complications do occur, they include:
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:
The regular schedule for giving the vaccine is at age 12-15 months and again at age 4-6 years. If you or your child has never been vaccinated against the mumps, talk to the doctor.
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
Canadian Family Physician
Braunwald E. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine . 15th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2001.
Infertility in men. University of Maryland Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/what_causes_of_male_infertility_000067_4.htm . Updated October 2006. Accessed July 28, 2008.
Mumps. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated July 2008. Accessed July 28, 2008.
Last reviewed September 2009 by David Horn, MD, FACP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2007 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.