Mumps : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

 What we know as Mumps has become an uncommon illness thanks to vaccines. The medical term is ‘epidemic parotitis,’ but you’ll never hear it called that.When mumps does occur, it usually happens in children. And while most cases of mumps are mild, serious complications like deafness can occur due to this virus. Let’s look at how to prevent mumps — and what to do if you (or your child) comes down with it.


Mumps is swelling of the parotid salivary glands caused by a virus. Severe cases of mumps may also affect the central nervous system, pancreas and testes. If the mumps virus infects the testes, it can cause infertility.

Mumps most often occurs in children ages two to 12, though it can occur in unvaccinated adults. When adults get mumps, the risk of complications rises.

The mumps virus spread from person to person through droplets. You can get mumps from an infected person if they sneeze or cough on you, or if you have direct contact with their saliva.


Mumps usually is easily recognizable by the gross swelling it produces along the jawline below the ears. Mumps often is accompanied by fever, headache, sore throat, testicular or scrotal swelling and/or pain in the groin of males. You should consult your doctor if you believe you or your child has mumps. However, call the office in advance to let them know of your suspicions. Your health care provider may want you to use a separate entrance in order to avoid potentially exposing other patients to the virus.


Mumps is considered contagious for about five days after the onset of swelling. If you or your child develops the characteristic swelling that signals mumps, you should isolate the infected individual until at least five days after swelling begsin.

Mump treatment focuses on comfort. Antibiotics hold no value in treating mumps because those medications don’t work on viruses. The virus usually runs its course within seven to 10 days. Treatment includes ice packs to relieve pain, medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever and pain, soft foods and plenty of fluids.


Mumps is 100% preventable by getting vaccinated. The ‘MMR’ vaccine innoculates children against measles, mumps and rubella (‘German measles’). The vaccine will not cause you to develop measles, mumps or rubella.

The MMR vaccine is given in a series of four doses, scheduled to be given at age 12 to 15 months and at age four to six. You also can get the MMR vaccine as an adult if you didn’t receive the immunization as a child and if you have never had measles, mumps or rubella.

Women who can get pregnant and were not immunized as children should receive one dose of MMR vaccine. Women who are already pregnant should not get the vaccination, as it can harm a developing baby.

People born before 1956 are considered immune and do not need to get the MMR vaccination.

If you do not know your MMR immunization status, you must take precautions if you come into contact with a person (child or adult) who may have mumps.

  • Wear a face mask and latex medical gloves, if possible.
  • Stay at least five feet away.
  • Do not touch the other person.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after any contact.


Don’t subject your children to the possibility of experiencing the discomfort of mumps. Get them vaccinated on schedule. Vaccines do not cause autism, despite popular arguments to the contrary. If you don’t know your MMR status, talk to your health care provider about getting a blood test to check your immunity to measles, mumps and rubella.

 Image Credit  : CDC/NIP/Barbara Rice via Creative Commons