What is mumps?

Mumps is a communicable condition that is caused by paramyxovirus. If a child is not vaccinated, he/she will develop the disease. Even though mumps is considered as a mild condition, there is the possibility for serious complications.

Indications of mumps

The symptoms of this disease are usually mild in nature. Generally, many individuals who develop mumps are not even aware that they have the condition. The symptoms do not manifest right away, but occur within 16-25 days after being infected.

The distinctive indication of mumps is the sore swelling of the salivary glands right below the ear. The swelling or parotitis can manifest on one or both sides of the face. Nevertheless, only a few of those who are infected can experience this symptom.

Among those who have symptoms, these include the following:


The distinctive indication of mumps is the sore swelling of the salivary glands right below the ear.

As for those who have parotitis, the other symptoms can occur and last for a few days before there is any swelling. A usual complication among older boys is orchitis or inflammation of the testicles, but this rarely leads to sterility.

How does it spread?

When the virus responsible for mumps reaches the upper respiratory tract, it spreads to others via contact with the respiratory secretions or saliva. The condition can also spread via contact with objects such as toys or glasses that were infected by the individual with the disease.

Those who are diagnosed with mumps must stay at home and minimize contact with others for 9 days after the glands started to swell which is the highly contagious period.


The doctor will provide a diagnosis of mumps based on the swollen salivary glands. In case the glands are not inflamed and the doctor suspects the condition based on other symptoms, a virus culture is performed. The culture is performed using a swab on the interior of the throat or cheek. The swab gathers cells and mucous that is analyzed in the laboratory for the presence of the mumps virus.


Mumps must be allowed to run its course and does not have any treatment. The management of the disease is focused on the symptoms so that the individual is comfortable such as the following:

  • Ensure that the individual gets enough fluids.
  • Medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be given to reduce the fever and alleviate the pain from the swollen glands.
  • For swollen glands, you can apply an ice pack or heat pack to help reduce the pain.

Do not provide the child with aspirin due to the risk for developing Reye’s syndrome which is a condition that causes liver failure, swelling of the brain and even death.

Even though mumps is considered as a mild disease, serious complications can occur such as encephalitis, meningitis or permanent deafness but these usually occur among teenager and adults. It is best to consult a doctor right away if the child has a stiff neck, high fever, confused or has severe headaches.


Even though contagious, mumps can be prevented due to the effectiveness of the MMR vaccine. Young children are vaccinated against the disease between 12-15 months old and at 4-6 years old.

At the present, mumps is considered uncommon but outbreaks can still occur in some countries, particularly in congested areas or places in which close human contact is inevitable. With this in mind, children should be vaccinated in order to reduce the risk of acquiring the disease.


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