Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection. It usually attacks the parotid glands but sometimes, it can affect other parts of the body. Mumps is common in young children, but can develop at any age. The causative virus for mumps is known as paramyxoviruses. It’s spread through contact with contaminated saliva, just like the flu or common cold. This implies that it can be contracted from an infected individual sneezing or coughing.
Presently, Mumps infections are less common due to the introduction of MMR vaccines. However, children who haven’t received the vaccine are highly susceptible to the condition.
Symptoms of Mumps
- High body temperature, headache, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
- Mild abdominal pains might occur.
- Dryness of the mouth.
- Swelling of the parotid glands is often accompanied by pain. The glands are located right below the ears and it’s difficult to see or even feel them.
- Chewing and swallowing can be difficult.
The inflammation of the parotid glands often lasts one week. It is important that all children receive an MMR vaccination.
Symptoms can range from mild to non-existent. It’s believed that about three in every ten people who develop mumps show no visible symptoms. Rarely, serious complications occur in the absence of symptoms.
During the infection, the body produces antibodies meant to destroy the virus providing you immunization from future contraction. It is possible however rare, to contract mumps a second time.
Diagnosis of Mumps
Most often, mumps is diagnosed by physically examining the enlarged parotid glands and associated symptoms. Since the inception of the MMR vaccine, mumps infections are confirmed by samples taken from the mouth to test the saliva. The level of salivary amylase contained in the saliva is then determined. In cases of the mumps, there seems to be elevated amounts of salivary amylase.
Treatments for Mumps
- Treatments focus on alleviating symptoms until the patient’s immune system completely kills the virus:
- Pain relievers like ibuprofen or paracetamol can relieve fever and pain
- Warm flannels held against painful parotid glands can be helpful
- Drink plenty of fluids, particularly when experiencing high body temperature. Avoid fruit juice, as it might stimulate the salivary glands to produce more saliva causing severe pain.
- Many children often recover within seven to ten days. Consult your doctor if you think that complications are developing.
Mumps may lead to the following complications:
• Swelling of the pancreas or heart, though this occurs rarely
• Brain inflammation or meningitis. This typically triggers severe headaches, drowsiness, vomiting, and stiff neck. Though alarming, encephalitis or meningitis brought about by mumps virus usually disappear without treatment in a few days.
• Inflamed testicles. Sometimes one testis might become inflamed causing pain for seven days. But this isn’t common in children. Occasionally, both testicles are affected.
• If you experience mumps within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, it might increase chances of a miscarriage.
• Hearing loss may sometimes develop in people infected with mumps.