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Mumps

Mumps

(Epidemic Parotitis)

Definition

Mumps is a viral infection of the parotid glands. These glands are located on the side of the face, near the ear. Because of the mumps vaccine, this condition is not as common as it once was in the United States.

Causes    TOP

The virus is usually spread through contact with an infected person's saliva. The mumps virus spreads easily among people in close contact.

Risk Factors    TOP

Mumps are more common in children and adolescents between the ages of 10-19 years of age. Other factors that may increase your chance of mumps include:

  • Being unvaccinated and exposed to people who have mumps
  • Being born after 1956 and never having mumps, or not being vaccinated after the first birthday
  • Season: winter
  • Having a weakened immune system, even if you have been vaccinated

Symptoms    TOP

About one-third of cases do not have symptoms. Symptoms often occur 2-3 weeks after exposure to the virus.

Mumps may cause:

  • Painful swelling of the parotid glands
  • Fever
  • Discomfort
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue

Other areas may also be affected, such as:

  • Swelling and pain under the tongue, jaw, or front of the chest
  • In males: painful inflammation of the testicles
  • In females—inflammation of the ovaries, which results in pain or tenderness in the abdomen

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The diagnosis will be based on these findings.

Treatment    TOP

There is no specific treatment for mumps. Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics.

In general, mumps will last about 10-12 days. Comfort measures may include:

  • Applying a hot or cold compresses to swollen areas
  • Gargling with warm salt water to soothe a sore throat
  • Treating high fever with an over-the-counter pain reliever
  • Drinking plenty of liquids
  • Eating a soft, bland diet

Aspirin is not usually recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection.

Complications

In most healthy children, complications are rare. When complications do occur, they may include:

  • Deafness, which may not be permanent
  • Swelling or infection of the brain, pancreas, heart, or other organs
  • Testicular inflammation
  • Problems with male fertility

Prevention    TOP

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent mumps. The vaccine contains live viruses that can no longer cause disease. The mumps vaccine is usually given in combination with:

  • Measles and rubella vaccine (MMR)
  • Measles, rubella, and varicella (chicken pox) vaccine (MMRV)

The regular schedule for giving the vaccine is at age 12-15 months and again at age 4-6 years.

Ask your doctor if the vaccine is right for you. In general, avoid the vaccine if you:

  • Have had severe allergic reactions to vaccines or vaccine components
  • Are pregnant—Avoid pregnancy for 1-3 months after receiving the vaccine
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Have a high fever or severe upper respiratory tract infection

If you are not vaccinated, avoid contact with someone who has mumps. Discuss the benefits of vaccination with your doctor.

RESOURCES:

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
http://www.healthychildren.org
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
http://www.cfpc.ca

References:

Kassianos G. Vaccination for tomorrow: the need to improve immunisation rates. J Fam Health Care. 2010;20(1):13-6.
Mumps. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 29, 2015. Accessed June 7, 2016.
Mumps. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
UpdatedSeptember 8, 2015. Accessed June 7, 2016.
Mumps. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated February 2016. Accessed June 7, 2016.
Mumps. Immunization Action Committee website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated January 12, 2015. Accessed June 7, 2016.
Wilson KF, Meier JD, et al. Salivary gland disorders. 2014;89(11):882-888.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Marcie Sidman, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2013

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