Symptoms of Mumps

Mumps, which means bumps in cheeks is an acute viral disease characterized by swollen and painful salivary glands especially the parotid glands located below and in front of ears.  Being a contagious disease like influenza or flu, healthy individuals contract the infection by direct contact or indirect contact. Direct contact is contracting the infection directly by inhalation of tiny saliva droplets loaded with viruses from diseased people. In the other mode infection spreads due to sharing utensils or by touching other things used by diseased person.  Mumps is also known as Parotitis or infective Parotitis.

Symptoms of Mumps

Mumps symptoms develop after two to three weeks of attack by the virus. Not all individuals infected with mumps virus show signs or symptoms.

Primary mumps symptoms

  • Swollen and painful salivary glands. Glands present on one or both sides of the face may get affected.
  • Difficulty to chew and swallow.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.

Complications in Mumps

Mumps symptoms generally subside without causing any complications. Some of the rare complications include:

  • Orchitis: This is characterized by painful swollen testicles. It may also result in infertility. Other symptoms include fever, headache and vomiting.
  • Pancreatitis: Swelling of the pancreas is termed as pancreatitis. Symptoms of this complication include nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting and pain in the upper abdomen.
  • Meningitis: Spread of mumps virus through blood stream causes infection of central nervous system. As a result membranes and fluid surrounding the spinal cord and brain get inflamed.
  • Encephalitis: Inflammation of the brain is termed as encephalitis. It often results in poor functioning of the nervous system. Meningitis and encephalitis are very rare complications of mumps.
  • Oophoritis: Characterized by inflammation of ovaries. Symptoms include pain in the lower abdomen, vomiting and high fever. Oophoritis may rarely lead to infertility.
  • Impaired hearing: Mumps may result in temporary or permanent loss of hearing in one or both the ears. In majority of the cases, deafness is permanent.
  • Miscarriage: Pregnant women infected with mumps virus in early pregnancy are at high risk of miscarriage.

Treatment of Mumps

Presence of swollen salivary glands and fever is not an accurate indication for mumps as other diseases such as tonsillitis also cause similar symptoms. Infection of parotid glands by virus similar to mumps virus also causes similar symptoms.  Hence, to confirm the presence of mumps blood tests to detect the presence of mumps antibodies and virus cultures are used. Mumps antibodies also give an indication of whether the attack is a recent one or is a past infection.  In case of complications, cerebrospinal fluid test is used to diagnose spread of mumps to brain tissues.mumps symptoms

Being a viral disease, use of antibiotics does not offer relief from mumps. Mumps symptoms generally subside within two weeks even without using any medications. The patient can resume to normal routine after one week as the infection will no longer be contagious. Treatment strategy for mumps is very simple .

  • Patient should be allowed to rest in bed until the fever subsides.
  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can be used to reduce pain and fever. However, aspirin should not be given to children.
  • Cold compress can be used to ease the pain in salivary glands.
  • If the child complains of tender and painful testicles athletic supporter can be used.
  • Liquid or soft diet that does not require chewing should be taken.
  • Sour foods that stimulate the production of saliva should be avoided.
  • Avoid getting strained.
  • Increase the intake of fluids.

Immediate medical attention should be given to the patient if mumps symptoms get worse. Symptoms such fever above 103 degrees, abdominal pain, confusion, enlarged testicles and trouble eating and drinking should be given attention.
The disease is highly contagious in the first five days of onset of symptoms. Hence, to prevent spread of infection the patient should be isolated during this period. Patient should use a tissue to cover the nose and mouth while sneezing and coughing. Hands should be washed with soap and clean water.

Mumps : Prevention

Mumps can be prevented by giving the child required vaccines. MMR vaccine, a combined vaccine against three diseases mumps, measles and rubella should be given in two doses before the child completes six years. First dose is given at the age of 12 to 15 months. Second dose is given at the age of 4 to 6 years. Children who fail to take this dose can be given MMR shots in between 11 and 12 years.  In addition to vaccination, previous attack of the disease also confers immunity against the virus.

It should be remembered that the vaccine should not be given to pregnant women, who are severely allergic to gelatin and antibiotic neomycin and those with highly suppressed immune system.