Orchitis or something else?
Orchitis is an inflammatory condition of the testes caused by an infection from a virus or bacteria. The infection could be because of mumps, mononucleosis or STDs. Infection due to bacteria develops from the progression of epididymitis, a tube that carries semen out of the testes. Mumps virus is the most common cause of orchitis and occurs mostly in children younger than 10 years. Orchitis affects every four out of ten children who are being infected with the virus. In most common cases, the inflammation of the testes develops after a few days upon the onset of mumps infection.
What are the symptoms?
What if my child complains about pain in his groins? How do I know if it has any connection with mumps?
There are plenty of conditions followed by the pain and discomfort in groins, precisely in the testis. How do you distinguish whether the symptoms bothering your child is associated with mumps complication or any other troubles? First of all, you need to get acquainted with a list of conditions which are followed by tenderness and pain in the testicles:
- Testicular torsion (twisted sperm cord takes place in young boys who are exposed to an extremely heavy physical load)
- Infection (infections caught while having sexual intercourse or infectious parotitis like mumps)
Although all these disorders are associated with pain and discomfort in the groins, they differ from mumps. Orchitis is a complication after mumps that occurs later in approximately two weeks after the intumescence of salivary glands. Symptoms include:
- Pain in the testes, usually on one side, that is accompanied by high fever.
- You might notice later that the testes have shrunk.
- These symptoms should not be associated with any physical exhaustion or overload.
All symptoms have an acute onset.
If your child especially in his puberty happened to experience these symptoms, do not hesitate to call your GP for counseling or admit to your local hospital, if it gets worse. Be aware that orchitis can lead to much severe complication- epididymitis, a more grave condition than orchitis. Together these two illnesses might cause permanent infertility in your boy's future life as the sperm count declines in such young men.
We cannot stop warning parents about vaccination being the best way to protect their baby from all troubles from mumps. Getting a mumps vaccination can prevent a child from getting mumps and therefore prevent the child from developing orchitis.
When do I take my baby to the hospital?
If the general condition of your boy deteriorates, pain gets worse, fever heightens (38-39 degrees) and swelling of testis exacerbates (the testis gets red, very painful and hot), you have to ask your GP for an appointment to prescribe some painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Usually in severe cases, such children and teens are counseled by a qualified surgeon. The earlier your child is seen by a qualified specialist, the milder the after-effect. The vaccination is not considered here as it is too late.
What are the ways to diagnose orchitis?
Physical examination by the doctor helps to identify if the infection is orchitis or not. But there are some other tests that will be performed in order to know the amount of infection that has spread and to reconfirm that the symptoms are of orchitis and not any other medical condition.
- Ultra sound is used to exclude other conditions like an abscess, testicular torsion and epididymitis.
- Rectal examination is done to check if it is the infection of the prostate gland.
- Urine sample is taken to know the cause of the infection.
How is orchitis treated?
The treatment of orchitis depends on the cause and whether it is the bacterial infection or viral infection.
- Bacterial orchitis is treated with antibiotics for at least two weeks. If the infection is severe then it might require hospitalization and IV antibiotics will be prescribed. Some common antibiotics are rocephin, doxycycline, zithromax and cipro. The medications are prescribed according to age and the spread of infection.
- If it is a viral infection like mumps, the patient can be treated with home remedies.
What are the different home remedies?
Along with proper medical care, home care can improve the symptoms of orchitis.
- Over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen help to reduce the pain. If the pain is severe, then a more powerful medicine like narcotic pain killer is suggested.
- Elevate the scrotum with athletic supporter or snug fitting briefs as it will increase the comfort.
- Apply ice packs on the scrotum.
Is orchitis dangerous for my little boy?
Orchitis is a complication which is hard to be missed on your boy. However, teens very often hide it from careless parents as they are shy to speak about their troubles. They simply do not know how to ask their parents for help. They think they are old enough to cope with it not knowing that the time is running out. That is why it is vital to warn your "grown up enough" child about probable complications of mumps and tell them that it is your right to know if there is anything wrong. Here, trust, awareness and timely vaccination against mumps are the best solutions to the problem.
If orchitis is uncomplicated, it may not lead to a deadly outcome. However, this condition deserves some concern and awareness as the worst after-effect of orchitis is infertility.
Can orchitis be prevented?
There are a few ways to prevent orchitis:
- Get children vaccinated against mumps.
- Men above the age of 50 should get their prostate gland examined on regular medical checkups for early diagnosis.
What complication can be caused by orchitis?
Few complications caused by orchitis are:
- Shrinkage of affected testes
- Impaired fertility or sterility
- Abscess of scrotal
- If left untreated, one can lose their testes or even die