Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the parotid glands — one of three pairs of saliva-producing (salivary) glands, situated below and in front of your ears. If you or your child contracts mumps, it can cause swelling in one or both parotid glands.
Mumps was common in the United States until mumps vaccination became routine. Since then, the number of cases has dropped dramatically, so your odds of getting mumps are low. Complications of mumps, such as hearing loss, are potentially serious, but rare.
There's no specific treatment for mumps. Mumps outbreaks still occur in the United States, and mumps is still common in many parts of the world, so getting a vaccination to prevent mumps remains important.
You have three pairs of major salivary glands — parotid, sublingual and submandibular. Each gland has its own tube (duct) leading from the gland to the mouth. ...
Some people infected with the mumps virus have either no signs or symptoms or very mild ones. When signs and symptoms do develop, they usually appear about two to three weeks after exposure to the virus and may include:
The primary — and best known — sign of mumps is swollen salivary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out. In fact, the term "mumps" is an old expression for lumps or bumps within the cheeks.
When to see a doctor
Other viruses can infect the parotid glands, causing a mumps-like illness.
Mumps is characterized by swollen, painful salivary glands in the face, causing the cheeks to puff out. ...
The cause of mumps is the mumps virus, which spreads easily from person to person through infected saliva. If you're not immune, you can contract mumps by breathing in saliva droplets of an infected person who has just sneezed or coughed. You can also contract mumps from sharing utensils or cups with someone who has mumps.
Complications of mumps are potentially serious, but rare.
Preparing for your appointment
Call your family doctor if you or your child has signs and symptoms common to mumps. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
Information to gather in advance
Questions to ask your doctor about mumps include:
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions you have about your or your child's condition.
What to expect from your doctor
What you can do in the meantime
Rest as much as possible, and avoid contact with others until you've seen the doctor. Mumps is highly contagious within about the first week after symptoms first appear.
Tests and diagnosis
If your doctor suspects that you or your child has mumps, a virus culture or a blood test may be needed. Your immune system normally makes antibodies to help you fight an infection. So if you have mumps, the blood test can detect the antibodies in your system that are fighting the mumps virus.
Treatments and drugs
Because mumps is caused by a virus, antibiotics aren't effective. Like most viral illnesses, a mumps infection must simply run its course. Fortunately, most children and adults recover from an uncomplicated case of mumps within about two weeks.
As a general rule, you're no longer considered contagious and may safely return to work or school one week after a diagnosis of mumps.
In general, you're considered immune to mumps if you've previously had the infection or if you've been immunized against mumps.
The mumps vaccine is usually given as a combined measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) inoculation, which contains the safest and most effective form of each vaccine. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended before a child enters school:
In response to a mumps outbreak in the Midwest, college students and health care workers in particular are encouraged to make sure they've had two doses of the MMR vaccine. A single dose doesn't appear to offer sufficient protection during an outbreak. Since the recommendation for a second dose didn't begin until the late 1980s or early 1990s, many young adults may not have received their second dose and should have one now.
Those who don't need the MMR vaccine
Also, the vaccine isn't recommended for:
Those who should get the MMR vaccine
Those who should wait to get the MMR vaccine
Those who should check with their doctors
Side effects of the vaccine
Although concerns have been raised about a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism, extensive reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conclude that there's no scientifically proven link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Lifestyle and home remedies
If you or your child has mumps, time and rest are the best treatments. There's little your doctor can do to speed recovery. But you can take some steps to ease pain and discomfort and keep others from becoming infected.
If your child has mumps, watch for complications. Call your doctor if your child develops:
Last Updated: 2012-10-05
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