An Overview of Mumps: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention


Mumps is a contagious viral illness with possible serious complications. It spreads through saliva, nasal secretions, etc.

What is Mumps?

This serious viral illness is extremely contagious and mainly affects the salivary glands that are responsible for the production of saliva. These glands are found on each side of your face and are located below and behind the ears. Mumps usually causes swelling of these glands.

Owing to the MMR vaccine, mumps has become rarer in vaccinated children even though there is a slight chance of infection. The disease is rare in children under 3 years and adults over 40. Children under the age of 15 are the most vulnerable.


Mumps is caused by paramyxovirus. It spreads from one person to another if there is direct contact with discharge from the throat or nose. Infection can also be caused if infected droplets released in the air by sneezing and talking is inhaled. An infected person is generally contagious from around 1-7 days before symptoms manifest and may remain so for almost 9 days after the occurrence.

Symptoms and Complications:

Symptoms of the infection may vary from person to person, ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms generally take around 16-18 days to show up after the person is infected. Here are the most common symptoms observed.

  • Early phase: Fever, less appetite, headache
  • Within 24 hours of these symptoms: face pain, earache, pain that worsens with chewing, pain that worsens with sour foods
  • The next 24 hours: Swelling of salivary glands

Mumps can lead to severe symptoms and may, at times, lead to complications. Given below is an explanation of symptoms and possible complications.

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Swelling of the Cheek: This is one of the signature symptoms of mumps. This symptom causes difficulty in talking, eating, and drinking. As is mentioned above, acidic or sour foods tend to increase the pain.

Fever: Another common symptom of the infection, a mumps-induced fever will generally be in the range of 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Fever in this range generally causes significant discomfort to the person.

Fever: Another common symptom of the infection, a mumps-induced fever will generally be in the range of 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Fever in this range generally causes significant discomfort to the person.

Orchit is: Orchitis, or inflammation of the testicles, is a fairly common symptom of mumps. Males experiencing this will generally feel pain in one of their testicles. This is often accompanied by swelling and difficulty moving.

Encephalitis: Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, is an uncommon symptom of the infection. A person suffering from this inflammation will tend to experience pain in most areas of the body, with headaches being the most common. This symptom is worrying as it may lead to more complications that may get tougher to treat.

Meningitis: This illness involves inflammation of the lining that covers the brain and spinal cord. It can lead to issues such as repeated vomiting and rashes. Meningitis is a serious condition and requires medical intervention. Symptoms of this complication may include headache, neck stiffness, and sensitivity to light, nausea, and vomiting.

Pancreatic Pain: Gall bladder, liver, and pancreas, all are at the risk of getting inflamed due to mumps. However, the pancreas is the most likely to cause discomfort. This usually happens if the person is unaware of contracting mumps and leaves it untreated. Inflammation of the pancreas is also a serious complication and must not be left untreated. Symptoms may include sudden, severe pain in the stomach, chills, fever, and weakness.

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Oophoritis: A female suffering from mumps may feel pain in the ovary area. If ignored, or left untreated, ovarian discomfort may lead to complications in the reproductive system. Symptoms of this condition may include fever, nausea, vomiting, pain in the pelvic area, stomach pain.

Pharyngitis: Soreness of the throat, or pharyngitis, is another type of inflammation. At times, this may be the only sign of mumps. Since a sore throat is extremely common, it could be overlooked and considered a common cold. Therefore, you can be on the lookout for other symptoms accompanying pharyngitis to ensure you do not have the mumps.

Impotence: Though very rare, if a male leaves mumps are untreated, it could lead to him becoming sterile. This could happen due to testicular inflammation. Therefore, if you suspect mumps, it is best to consult a doctor at the earliest.

Other complications may include hearing loss, heart problems, and miscarriage.

Treatment and Prevention

Mumps is usually treated with medicines for pain and lots of fluids. Bed rest may be advised for a few days. Children must stay out of school till symptoms have subsided. People suffering from the infection must limit contact with people and follow good hygiene such as washing hands, covering the mouth while sneezing or talking, and disinfecting high-contact surfaces.

The best way to prevent mumps is through vaccination. The vaccine is usually given as a combination of vaccines for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. The first dose is usually given at the age of 12-15 months followed by another dose at 4-6 years.

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