About Mumps

By Dr. Coco

April 17, 2023

Mumps is an infectious disease caused by the mumps virus, and it is most commonly seen in children. While it can be a mild illness, it can have serious complications such as deafness, meningitis, and infertility. It is spread through contact with saliva or mucus from an infected person, usually through sneezing or coughing. Mumps can also be spread through direct contact with objects that have been contaminated by saliva from an infected person.

The symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Swelling of the salivary glands (parotid glands) on one or both sides of the face may occur 1-2 weeks after infection. This swelling causes the cheeks to puff out and is often referred to as “chipmunk cheeks.”” Other symptoms may include pain when chewing or swallowing, earache, dry mouth, and difficulty speaking. Complications from mumps can include inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty; inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breasts (mastitis) in females who have reached puberty; deafness; meningitis; pancreatitis; and rarely encephalitis. 

Mumps can be prevented with vaccination against the virus. The mumps vaccine is part of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine that is routinely given to children at 12-15 months old and again at 4-6 years old. Two doses are needed for long-term protection against mumps infection. Vaccination has been very successful in reducing the incidence of mumps infections in many countries around the world. 

If someone suspects they may have mumps they should see their healthcare provider right away for diagnosis and treatment if necessary. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms such as fever reducers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain relief as well as rest and plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. In some cases antiviral medications may be prescribed if there are complications from mumps such as meningitis or encephalitis however these medications do not cure mumps but rather reduce severity of symptoms and duration of illness. 

In conclusion, while mumps is a relatively mild illness for most people it does carry potential risks for serious complications such as deafness, meningitis and infertility so it is important to get vaccinated against this virus in order to protect yourself from infection. Additionally if you suspect you may have contracted mumps then seek medical attention right away so that diagnosis and treatment can be initiated if needed.