Mumps – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment
What is mumps?
Mumps is a viral infection that leads to painful inflammation of the salivary glands. Salivary glands are called parotid glands in medical terms. These glands produce saliva, a watery secretion that aids in chewing, swallowing, and digestion of food. Mumps can also infect central nervous system, pancreas, and testes.
Mumps can be prevented easily by vaccination. Mumps mostly affects unvaccinated children between ages 2 and 12, but it can occur at any age.
What causes mumps?
Mumps is caused by the mumps virus. This virus spreads from person to person through drops of saliva, nasal secretions, and direct contact. It also spreads through contact with items that have infected saliva on them.
What are the symptoms of mumps?
The following are the symptoms of mumps:
- A headache
- Pain in the face
- A sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of the parotid glands (largest salivary glands between the ear and the jaw)
- Swelling of the temples or jaw
The following other symptoms can occur in males:
- Scrotal swelling
- Pain in the testicles
- Testicle lump
How is mumps diagnosed?
The doctor will perform a physical exam, review the symptoms, and ask when the symptoms started. A doctor can easily diagnose mumps by looking at the symptoms and feeling the affected area. No tests are needed in most cases, but sometimes blood tests may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.
How is mumps treated?
Mumps is a viral infection, but no specific antiviral medicines are available to treat it. Treatment primarily aims at relieving the symptoms. In most cases, recovery takes about two weeks.
The following self-care measures will provide some relief:
- Apply ice or heat pack to the affected area.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat soft or liquid foods.
- Gargle with warm salt water.
- OTC pain medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief. It is suggested not to give aspirin to children with mumps to avoid the risk for Reye syndrome.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.