treatment, pieces of advice for parents
What is mumps?
Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection. The virus invades the parotid glands of the individual causing pain and inflammation of these glands. It is characterized by a “hamster-like” swelling of the patient’s face. The initial symptoms may take up to two weeks to manifest. It spreads easily through physical contact with an infected person. Therefore, all necessary precautions must be employed to prevent the spread of this infection.
What should I do if my baby has mumps?
All measures of treatment for mumps are directed on the soothing the symptoms. There is no specific cure for the disease. Antibiotics are effective only for bacterial diseases. There may be no symptoms for the first seven to eight days. But this is the time when the infection is most contagious. Around 20 percent of people will not develop any symptoms.
- If you suspect that your baby has mumps, call your GP or nurse immediately so they could track your baby's vaccination dates.
- Once your doctor has diagnosed mumps, strictly follow all his/her instructions in order to avoid possible complications.
- Watch your child carefully. Make sure you keep your child’s body temperature under control.
• The child may complain of pain in the ears due to the swollen salivary glands. You can inform your doctor about it and seek counsel. In very rare cases, mumps may cause permanent loss of hearing.
• You should carefully observe your child for stiffness in the neck or drowsiness. If he becomes unconscious or complains about a headache, you should call your doctor immediately. All these symptoms are suggestive of complications like meningitis or encephalitis in the child.
• In some cases, the child may complain of abdominal pain and vomiting. These can be due to an inflammation of the pancreas. It is not a serious affliction and subsides shortly over a period of time. However, it is always best to consult your doctor.
• If the child complains of pain in the groin, you should seek medical advice. This may be an indication of another complication associated with mumps. Orchitis causes inflammation and pain of the testicles in male children; whereas, in females, it can cause swelling of the ovaries. In rare cases, orchitis can lead to sterility in adult males affected by the condition. It can cause miscarriage in pregnant females, so any pregnant members in the family should be kept away from the infected child.
• Ensure that your child drinks plenty of fluids such as herbal tea, water, or fresh juices. Artificially sweetened drinks, sodas, and aerated drinks should be avoided as they can cause dehydration.
• Your child should eat light to slightly mashed food that is easy to chew and digest. This reduces the strain on the salivary glands and the jaws. Blended soups, finely chopped steamed vegetables, or thin porridges work well. Food should be devoid of any seasoning or spices, which stimulate the salivary glands to produce saliva. Avoid sour and citrus foods for the same reason.
• You can apply a warm tissue to the sides of his neck to soothe the discomfort. A cold compress is also effective in relieving symptoms.
• Painkillers like paracetamol, ibuprofen should be given in the accordance with the prescription of your doctor.
• You must ensure that your child takes adequate rest. You can allow your child to play if he is feeling up to it.
• Wear a mask and encourage the child to use a handkerchief to cover his face while coughing or sneezing; this will prevent the spread of the infection.
• Wash your hands frequently, especially after attending to the sick child.
• You should try to restrict the child to a room in order to control the spread of the infection.
• Your child will require special care and attention as the discomfort can make him restless and cranky.
Immunization is the best preventive measure. You can only contract mumps once in your lifetime. The body develops natural immunity to the infection that wards off future infections.
What should I avoid when my baby has mumps?
- If your child has any viral infection, he should not take aspirin. Aspirin has been linked to Reye's syndrome, which is a severe complication, affecting the liver and kidneys.
- Do not allow your child to eat spicy or sour foods that can stimulate the salivary glands to produce saliva. This can increase pain and discomfort.
- Do not give soft drinks or sodas to your child.
- Do not let any other children come in close contact with your child.
- Do not hide the disease from your neighborhood as this may lower their guard, increasing the risk of an infection. Mumps spread quickly and it can be dangerous for pregnant women.
- Do not share food or drinks with an infected child.
- Do not share cutlery, plates or personal items with the infected child.
Is there any possibility for the rest members of my family to catch mumps from my baby?
Unfortunately, there is a strong possibility for the illness (mumps) to develop for family members who had never been vaccinated before if they come in contact with the infected child.
Any individual with a weak immune system is at a greater risk of contracting this virus.
Anyone who has not followed the schedule of vaccination might catch the virus.
Always refer to your health care worker about your doubts regarding the disease, treatment, prevention, and complications.
Ensure that all your family members are inoculated.
There is no cause of panic if your child has contracted mumps. In most cases, the infections run its course of two to three weeks and subside on its own. The child's overall condition may start improving after the initial ten days. The medications help in relieving the symptoms. However, you must take adequate measures to prevent the spread of infection.
Mothers and all the family members attending to the child must take extra care to avoid getting infected. Complications are rare, although it is important to be cautious of any symptoms that indicate a severe infection in other parts of the body.