Mumps Causes Treatment

Mumps – Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Mumps refers to the contagious viral infection affecting the salivary gland. The viral infection causes painful swelling of the parotid glands located near the ears. People can experience swelling in one or both the glands. As a result, you may have puffy cheeks, swollen or tender jaw. The disease is endemic in tropical areas around the world. It also affects people in other regions. Many developed and developing countries experience the outbreak of the disease. It is usually at its peak from late winter to early spring. The introduction of vaccines has led to a dramatic drop in the number of reported cases. So, the common disease now occurs sporadically in countries like the USA. In recent years, the number of people infected by the viral disease has crept up. It is due to not getting the vaccination.

People have several misconceptions regarding the vaccine used to prevent viral disease. So, people who come in close contact with other people in settings like schools or colleges face the risk of the disease. The condition has no specific cure. So, you need to wait for the disease to run its course. Getting vaccinated can reduce the severity of the disease and avoid complications. Interested in knowing more? Then, read ahead to get comprehensive information on the viral disease.

History Of Mumps

Ernest William Goodpasture in the year 1934 discovered the viral infection. But, it is believed the condition prevailed centuries earlier. The medical historian who tried to find the origin of the disease believed the illness consistent with signs of mumps dates back to 332 BC -395 AD (Greco-Roman time). It is believed the famous Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about the disease in the fifth century. Mumps affected people on the Greek island of Thasos. The incident recorded in 410 BC is still believed as a masterful record. The disease caused many French soldiers to miss active duty during World War I.

Ernest William Goodpasture
Ernest William Goodpasture

Scientists developed the first effective vaccination against viral infection in 1940. People received the vaccination from 1950 until 1978. While the vaccine prevented viral infection, it has limited long-term immune effectiveness. So, the vaccine strain failed to provide protection from the virus long-term. The current strain of the vaccination used to prevent the disease has much more rate of success. It has 88% long-term immunity. The current immunization schedule is suggested for children at twelve to fifteen months. The child needs another booster between four and six years. In most countries, vaccination comes as a part of a combination vaccine. The MMR (measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccination offers protection against common childhood viral infections.

Symptoms Associated With Mumps

Symptoms Associated With Mumps The viral infection can trigger little or no symptoms. So, most people may not experience any signs. But, when the symptoms develop, they mostly appear 2-3 weeks after you get exposed to the virus. While most people sense something is wrong when they suffer from swollen salivary glands. The condition causes the cheeks to puff out. The visual change is the first sign indicating the viral infection. Other signs indicating the disease are:

  • Pain on one or both sides of the face in the swollen salivary glands
  • Suffer from pain when chewing or swallowing food
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite

See A Doctor For Mumps

Mumps You need to take the affected person (child or adult) to the hospital when you observe the symptoms. The disease is contagious for at least nine days after the symptoms appear. So, you need to inform the doctor beforehand. It helps take necessary precautions to avoid spreading the virus to others who come to the hospital. Since majority cases of mumps have no complications associated with it, healthcare professionals like family doctors, pediatricians or internists can deal with the problem. You need to consult an infectious-disease specialist only when any complications or unusual circumstances arise.

The viral infection is now uncommon, thanks to the immunization routine. So, it is possible you or your child experiences the condition due to some other problem. Swelling of the salivary glands along with fever can indicate other problems like:

  • A different viral infection
  • Blocking in the salivary gland

Therefore, make an appointment with your doctor to evaluate the problem. It will help you take the right steps to manage it properly.

Causes Of Mumps

The disease is caused by the mumps virus. The virus has a single strand of RNA. But, the uniqueness is visible due to the two-layered enveloped that houses the RNA. It is the exclusive immune signature. Unlike other viruses causing problems like the common cold, only one type of virus exists, which causes the disease. The contagious virus ranks higher in the order of magnitudes like rubella (German Measles) and influenza. But, it is less severe than chickenpox (varicella) and measles.

Mumps Virus
Mumps Virus

The highly contagious virus spreads from one person to another through direct contact. So, it spreads among people who live in close quarters. You can suffer from the problem when infected saliva passes on to others. Another person who inhales the infected saliva droplets (from sneezing or coughing) can suffer from the viral infection. It also transmits when you share cups or other utensils with an infected person. In less frequent cases, the infected saliva droplets landing on the clothing, pillows, and sheets can also transmit the disease. The virus spreads via hand-to-mouth contact. Animals cannot get infected or spread the disease.

Stages Of Mumps

When you suffer from a specific viral infection, the virus goes through three stages. The three stages of the disease are:

Incubation Period

Once you get exposed to the virus, the symptoms appear after a fourteen to eighteen-day period. Since the viral shedding is short-lived, the patients affected by the infection need isolation from others. It is to avoid transmission of the virus. So, ensure isolation for the first five days after the onset of salivary gland swelling.

Contagious Period

People infected by the virus can spread the disease to two days before the symptoms appear and the first five days after the swelling of salivary glands. The patient can also observe other signs apart from tenderness and swelling like:

  • Malaise
  • Low-grade fever
  • Headache
  • Myalgia

Inflammatory Period

The final stage of the disease is an inflammatory phase. You can see the symptoms mostly around the site of infection. It can vary from person-to-person. You can experience the problem from seven to ten days. Followed by the stage, you can see the spontaneous resolution of the condition.

Complications Due To Mumps

While the condition is mild, some people may suffer from rare complications. The issues associated with the viral infection include inflammation and swelling in some parts of the body. While it is rare, the potentially serious complications include:


Mumps can cause the testicles to swell in men. The condition referred to as orchitis can affect one or both testicles. It is common among males who have reached puberty. While the condition can cause immense pain and distress, it may not cause infertility. So, the problem rarely leads to sterility.


The viral infection can affect the brain. It results in inflammation, leading to encephalitis. The condition is severe as it can trigger neurological problems and can become life-threatening. So, if you experience the following signs while suffering from the viral infection, the contact the doctor:

  • Severe headaches
  • Loss of consciousness

Meningitis is another problem caused due to viral infection. The condition can lead to the accumulation of fluid and membranes around the brain and spinal cord. It mostly occurs when the virus spreads through the affected person’s bloodstream. Ultimately, it affects the central nervous system.


The viral infection can affect the pancreas. It is known as pancreatitis. The condition results in nausea, pain in the upper abdomen, and vomiting.

Other Complications

Some people can experience other complications like:

Hearing Loss

While it is rare, some people experience hearing loss in one or both ears. Unfortunately, it is permanent.

Heart Problems

People suffering from the viral infection report heart problems sporadically. It includes abnormal heartbeat and issues affecting the heart muscles.


Women in their early stages of pregnancy can suffer from a miscarriage when they suffer from viral infection.

Diagnosis Of Mumps

When you suffer from the symptoms of the viral infection, make an appointment with the doctor. The signs like trouble swallowing and swelling can cause discomfort to your child. When you see the doctor, you have to undergo the following tests to detect the problem conclusively:

Medical History

The doctor checks for the signs and symptoms associated with the disease. You need to inform the doctor about your or your child’s vaccination history. It is important to know if you have received vaccination against the disease. It is also important to discuss the possible exposure to the virus.

Blood Test

The doctor recommends a blood test to confirm the presence of the virus in your body. You need to provide a sample of your blood in the lab for testing. Pathologists check in the lab to find the evidence of the virus.

Virus Culture

Other viruses can also cause swelling of the salivary glands. So, it is important to eliminate the presence of other viruses. So, your doctor suggests a virus culture. You need to provide a sample swab containing the fluid from inside your throat or cheek. The swab sample collected your mucus and cells. Technicians test it in the lab to find the presence of mumps virus.

Treatment For Mumps

The condition is triggered by the virus. So, antibiotics can never cure the problem. For mild cases of the disease, you just have to wait for the virus to run its course. So, children and adults suffering from less severe cases can recover from the problem within a few weeks. You need to just take steps to ensure comfort. So, the treatment includes the following:

Applying Packs

Applying cold or hot packs on the affected side of the neck can offer relief from pain and discomfort. The warm or cold packs can reduce the swelling and inflammation in the salivary gland region.

Take Analgesics

If hot or cold compress does not offer you relief, then take analgesics. Before taking any medication, talk to your doctor.

When you feel the discomfort reducing, you can safely return back to your normal routine. So, children can go back to their school and others can safely return to work five days after the appearance of the first sign.

Lifestyle And Home Remedies For Mumps

While mumps has no specific treatment, you can follow some steps at home to reduce the discomfort and helps speedy recovery.

Get Rest

You need to get rest as it is the best treatment. You must never exert yourself and get ample rest to get well soon.

Isolate Infected Person

To avoid other people from getting the viral infection, you need to take steps to isolate the infected person. The infected person can spread the disease for up to five days after the appearance of the symptoms.

Get Pain Relief

The swelling on one or both sides of the salivary glands can trigger pain. You can reduce the pain and swelling with the following steps:

Check Your Diet

While recovering from the viral infection, you need to check your diet. So, you need to follow the instructions:

  • Avoid food requiring a lot of chewing. You can include soft foods like oatmeal or mashed potatoes, which is easy to swallow. You can also try broth-based soups.
  • Try to avoid sour foods like citrus fruits or juice. It stimulates saliva production, which increases your pain.
  • Always stay hydrated. So, drink plenty of fluids for a speedy recovery.

Call Doctor

If an infected child suffers any complications, you need to call the doctor immediately. So, you need to consult a doctor when you see the following:

  • High fever (above 103 F or greater)
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Trouble drinking or eating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swelling of testicles (in boy/men)

Preventing Mumps

The only effective way to prevent the viral infection is by getting measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Since the condition is still common among many parts of the world, people need to get the MMR vaccine before traveling overseas. Once vaccinated, you have full immunity against the disease. By giving the two doses of the combined vaccination (MMR), your child gets protected from the viral infection. Health officials recommend parents to provide the vaccination before their child enters school. The time of providing the two vaccines are:

  • When the child is between the ages of twelve and fifteen months
  • The second dose between the ages of four and six years

Healthcare workers, college students, and international travelers who have not received the vaccination need to take two doses of the MMR vaccines. It is because a single dose is not effective in preventing viral infection. While a third dose is usually not required, in some cases, you need a third dose. You need to get the vaccination when you live or travel to the area experiencing an outbreak. People who receive the third dose are less susceptible to catch the disease.

People Not Requiring MMR Vaccine

Some people never require the MMR vaccine. So, the following people don’t need vaccination:

  • Children who have received two doses of MMR vaccine (after one year of age)
  • Have received one dose of MMR vaccine after twelve months of age and has a low risk of viral infection
  • Your blood test indicated high immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella
  • People born before 1957 as people in the age group have already suffered the disease and have high immunity.

MMR Vaccine Not Recommended

The MMR vaccination is not recommended for the following:

  • Suffer life-threatening allergic reaction to neomycin (antibiotic) or any other component of the vaccine.
  • Have severely compromised immune systems

Get MMR Vaccine Immediately

If you do not come under the criteria suggested above, then you need to get the vaccination. Make sure to talk to your doctor about receiving the vaccination immediately for the following condition:

  • You work in a school, medical facility, hospital or childcare center
  • Plan to travel overseas or go on a cruise
  • Attend school or college
  • You are of childbearing age and/or plan to conceive

Wait To Get MMR Vaccine

You need to wait for a period to get the MMR vaccination if you experience the following:

  • Suffer from moderate or severe illness. You need to wait until you recover.
  • Current pregnant women need to wait until they give birth

Check With Doctor Regarding Mumps Vaccine

Some people need to get the all-clear from their doctor before getting the mumps vaccine. So, people who have the following need to consult their doctor:

  • Suffering from a blood disorder
  • Have cancer
  • Suffer from diseases affecting the immune system like HIV/AIDS
  • You take drugs (like steroids) for the underlying condition that affects your immune system
  • Have received another vaccination within the past four weeks

Side Effects Of Mumps Vaccine

Many parents believe the false news and claims regarding the MMR vaccination. But, MMR is very effective as well as safe. Children getting the vaccination never suffer any irreversible problems. Compared to getting mumps, vaccination is much safer. While the majority of the people never suffer any side effects due to taking the vaccine, some children experience mild fever, achy joints or rash at the injection site. But, these side effects only last for a short time. In some rare cases, children who suffer fever can experience seizures. The seizures are not associated with any long-term complications.

MMR and Autism

In 1998, authorized research published in The Lancet medical journal by British medical researcher, Andrew Wakefield indicated a direct link between MMR vaccine and autism. The research paper also indicated that the MMR vaccination causes bowel problems in children. The journal proposed a new syndrome called autistic enterocolitis. The fraudulent report caused concerns among parents, which led to a sharp drop in vaccination rated in the UK and Ireland. With wide reporting of the news in all media caused a dramatic drop in MMR vaccination rates around the world. But, the study by Wakefield was faulty and inaccurate. An expose by investigative journalist Brian Deer exposed the inaccuracies in the study. But, the faulty report led to the anti-vaccination movement and resulted in long-term injuries and a high death rate.

Brian Deer
Brian Deer

The study conducted by Wakefield was a case report and not detailed research as it included only twelve children. A later detailed study conducted indicated no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. It led to the dismissal of the claim in 2009 by the US Federal Court. In 2010, the authorities leveled additional fraud charges against Andrew Wakefield. The study, published in 1998 is the most damaging and notorious piece in the history of modern medicine.


Mumps is a mild disease that alleviates itself after a few days or weeks. When it affects children, they can bounce back without any lasting complications after a few weeks. They can resume their normal activities as soon as the symptoms improve. But, the disease is more severe when it affects adults. It is especially riskier for pregnant women as it enhances the chances of spontaneous abortion. The disease will not return after it has infected you once. In order to prevent the distress and complications associated with the viral infection, it is better to get the vaccination. Make sure your child’s immunization is up-to-date to avoid any problems

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