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Definition | Causes | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention

Definition

Mumps is a viral infection. The infection causes fever and swelling of the parotid glands. These glands are located on the side of the face, near the ear. Because of the mumps vaccine, this condition is not as common as it once was in the United States.

Swollen Parotid Gland

Swollen Parotid Gland
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Causes

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

Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of developing mumps:

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

Symptoms

About one-third of cases do not have symptoms. Symptoms often occur 2-3 weeks after exposure to the virus.

Mumps may cause:

  • Painful swelling of the parotid glands
  • Fever
  • Discomfort
  • Lack of appetite
  • 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

Diagnosis

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

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for mumps. Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics.

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 a sore throat.
  • Treat high fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
  • Drink plenty of liquids. Avoid tart or acidic drinks such as, orange juice or lemonade
  • Eat a soft, bland diet.

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

  • Deafness, which may not be permanent
  • Swelling or infection of the brain, pancreas, heart, or other organs
  • Testicular inflammation
  • Problems with male fertility

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:

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.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians

http://familydoctor.org

American Academy of Pediatrics

http://www.healthychildren.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The College of Family Physicians of Canada

http://www.cfpc.ca

References:

Kassianos G. Vaccination for tomorrow: the need to improve immunisation rates. J Fam Health Care. 2010;20(1):13-6.

Mumps. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mumps/. Updated October 6, 2010. Accessed June 6, 2013.

Mumps. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 14, 2013. Accessed June 6, 2013.

Mumps. Nemours' KidsHealth.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/sick/mumps.html. Updated July 2012. Accessed June 6, 2013.

Mumps. Immunization Action Committee website. Available at: http://www.vaccineinformation.org/mumps/. Updated May 29, 2013. Accessed June 6, 2013.

Last reviewed June 2013 by Kari Kassir, MD; Michael Woods, MD

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.