Mumps is a viral infection of the salivary glands which is extremely contagious. It can easily spread through saliva and mucus and usually occur in kids who have not been immunized. Basically, mumps used to be common, but since the introduction of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella vaccine) in 1967, it is been almost wiped out. Typically, it starts with few days of fever, muscle aches, headache, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Most people develop swelling of the salivary glands which results to the puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw.


Signs and symptoms

Typically, mumps is known for the puffy cheeks and tender swollen jaw that results from the swelling of the salivary gland. Other symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low grade fever
  • General body fatigue
  • There can be associated pain in the sides of the face where there is swelling
  • Painful swallowing
  • Joint pain

These symptoms appear 16-18 days after infection but it can vary with different individuals. In rare cases, mumps can result to severe complications.



Mumps is extremely contagious, and spreads via direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets from the nose, mouth or throat. An infected person can further spread the virus via

  • Sharing used materials that have saliva on them
  • Close contact activities with others such as kissing or dancing.
  • Objects touched with unwashed hands that are then touched by others.
  • A person infected with mumps should endeavor to limit contact with others few days before their salivary glands begin to swell up till five days after the swelling developed.



Your doctor can diagnose mumps through the symptoms presented by you, especially on physical examination. He might check inside your mouth, take your temperature, take a sample of blood, urine or saliva to confirm diagnosis and a sample of CSF from the spine for testing.



  • Mumps is a viral infection and so, it cannot be treated with antibiotics. Current treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms until the infection has run its course. Mostly, people recover within 14 days. You can take the following steps to help relieve the symptoms of mumps
  • Take plenty of fluids (water). Avoid fruit juices that may stimulate the production of saliva, which can be painful.
  • Apply cold compress on the swollen area to alleviate pain.
  • Take more of liquid food, chewing can be painful
  • Have adequate sleep and rest
  • Try warm salt water gargle
  • Use of painkillers over the counter such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.



Mumps can be serious resulting to complications. Mostly, complications are more frequent in adults than children. They may include:

  • Orchitis i.e swelling of the testicles
  • Oophoritis i.e swelling of the ovaries
  • Encephalitis i.e swelling of the brain
  • Meningitis i.e swelling of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord
  • Hearing impairment
  • Pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas)



Adequate protection can be ensured by getting mumps vaccine for your kids at a very early stage. The vaccine is given as part of a combination vaccine: Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). The vaccine is safe and effective and most kids do not have any side effects from the vaccine.


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