1 What is Mumps?

A viral infection that primarily affects the parotid glands (one of the three parts of saliva-producing glands, situated below and in front of your ears, is called mumps. Mumps can cause swelling in one or both parotid glands. Mumps vaccination became a routine in the United States.

Hearing loss is a rare complication of a mumps. There is no treatment for mumps. Mumps is still common in many parts of the world. If you do not wish to get mumps there is an available vaccine to prevent mumps.

2 Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of mumps appear about two to three weeks after exposure and it includes:

  • fever,
  • muscle aches,
  • swollen and painful salivary glands on one or both sides of your face (parotitis),
  • weakness and fatigue,
  • headache,
  • pain while swallowing or chewing,
  • loss of appetite.

The most common symptom is swollen salivary glands that can cause your cheeks to puff out. Mumps is an old expression for bumps or lumps in the cheeks. If you are bothered by these symptoms, go and visit your doctor. To prevent infecting other patients, let him know what time you are coming. It is possible that the signs and symptoms are caused by another condition because mumps become an uncommon condition. A mump-like illness can be caused by other viruses that infect the parotid glands.

3 Causes

Mumps virus that spreads easily from person to person through infected saliva is the cause of the mumps.

By breathing in saliva droplets of an infected person who coughed or sneezed, you can contact the mumps if you are not immune.

You can also contract the virus by sharing things like utensil with an infected person.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Making a diagnosis of mumps is done by performing several tests.

Contact your doctor before going to the clinic. Ask for pre-appointment restrictions. Bring a notebook. Write down the symptoms that you or your children are experiencing, recent exposures to possible sources. Write down the supplements, vitamins or medication that you are taking. Also, write down any health problems if you have one.

Question that you can ask your doctor may include:

  • What are causing my symptoms?
  • What are other causes?
  • What treatment should I get?
  • How soon will these symptoms improve?
  • Are there any home remedies you may recommend?
  • Is this contagious? For how long will I be contagious?
  • What ways should I do so that I will not infect others?

Your doctor will ask you questions like:

  • What are the signs have you noticed?
  • When did you first notice it?
  • Did they get worse or better?
  • Do you know anyone else with these symptoms?
  • Are you current for vaccination?
  • Is your child in school after noticing the signs?
  • Are you breast-feeding or pregnant?

While waiting to go to the clinic you may want to take pain relievers such as Ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) and apply cold compress to ease the pain. Do not give aspirin to a child who have a viral illness for it may lead to Reye’s syndrome. Avoid contact with others, stay indoors and rest a lot because mumps is highly contagious within first week.

5 Treatment

Antibiotics aren't effective for mumps treatment because it is caused by a virus. Mostly you will get better in two weeks so you are no longer contagious and may return to your daily activities.

6 Prevention

Vaccination can prevent mumps.

If you had previously infected by mumps, you will be immune to it. Mostly it is given as a combined measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) inoculation which contains the most effective and safest form of vaccine. It is recommended to give two doses of MMR before schooling; the first between the ages of 12-15 months and the second between ages 4-6 or between 11 and 12 years of age if not previously given.

College students and health care workers are encouraged to make sure they had two doses of the MMR vaccine in response to a mumps outbreak in the Midwest, because a single dose isn't sufficient enough to be protected from the virus. Many young adults may not have received their second dose since the recommendation for a second dose didn’t begin until the late 1980 or early 1990's.

You do not need the vaccine if:

  • you had two doses after 12 months of age,
  • one dose of the MMR and a second Dose of the measles vaccine,
  • had one dose of MMR but not at risk,
  • have blood tests to see if you are immune to rubella, mumps and measles,
  • a woman born before 1957 and doesn't have any plan to be pregnant,
  • a man born before 1957.

The vaccine is not recommended for:

  • people who had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the antibiotic neomycin or gelatin,
  • people with compromised immune systems,
  • people who take oral steroids; pregnant women,
  • women who plan to get pregnant within four weeks.

You should be vaccinated if you:

  • attends college or trade school or post secondary school,
  • not pregnant,
  • work in a hospital, child care center, medical facility,
  • plan to travel abroad.

Consider waiting:

  • if you are severely ill till you recover,
  • you are pregnant.

Check with your physician first if:

  • you've received another vaccine for the past four weeks,
  • you have blood disorder,
  • you are being treated with drugs like steroids,
  • you have cancer,
  • you have a disease that affects your immune systems like HIV.

Some side effects are rash, mild fever and achy joints. Less than 1 out of 1 million doses cause allergic reaction. There is no scientifically proven link between autism and MMR vaccine according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Some of the most effective homeopathic remedies for mumps that provides relief from the pain include:

  • Chebulic Myrobalan,
  • Indian Aloe,
  • Peepal Leaves or sacred fig leaves,
  • Ginger,
  • Asparagus,
  • Black pepper,
  • Margosa Leaves,
  • Banyan leaves,
  • Fenugreek seeds,
  • Hot fomentation,
  • Hot water,
  • Carrot juice,
  • Pineapple juice,
  • Garlic. 

8 Lifestyle ad Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with mumps.

You should rest well if you have mumps.

Take some of these steps to ease the discomfort and pain and not to infect others:

  • Isolate yourself so they will not be infected.
  • Rest in bed until the fever go away.
  • Drink pain relievers such as Tylenol or non steroidal anti-inflammatory like Advil to ease the pain.
  • Adults may use aspirin but teenagers and children that are recovering from flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin.
  • For men, wear an athletic supporter and cold compress in testicles.
  • Use cold or warm compress to reduce the pain.
  • Avoid sour foods that stimulate saliva production.
  • Avoid foods that require a lot of chewing.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Call your doctor right away if the fever reaches 103 F (39 C) or greater, abdominal pain, trouble eating or drinking, swelling of testicles in boys and disorientation or confusion.

9 Risks and Complications

Complications of mumps are:

  • inflammation and swelling, 
  • orchitis meaning the swelling of one or both testicles in boys which is painful but does not lead to sterility, 
  • women may have an inflammation in the ovaries (oophoritis) or breast (mastitis),
  • pancreas that will cause pain in the upper abdomen,
  • encephalitis which is the inflammation of the brain,
  • meningitis or the membranes and fluid around the spinal cord and brain that can spread through your bloodstream to infect your central nervous system,
  • hearing loss but rarely in one or both ears,
  • miscarriage but not yet proven.

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