MumpsAre you suffering from fever, sore throat or swollen salivary glands? You could be infected with the mumps virus. Mumps is no longer a disease that only affects the children. It has been reported in more number of adults than usual. The primary reason of increased number of cases of mumps is due to mini outbreaks in specific parts of the world. Thankfully, India is not among those affected regions. But to ensure that we Indians continue to stay away from outbreak of mumps, we need to learn what the disease is all about and how can we prevent it. We spoke to Dr Trupti Vaishnani, Pediatrician & Neonatologist, Wockhardt Hospital, Rajkot about the disease — here’s is all you need to know about mumps.

What is mumps?

Mumps is a contagious viral infection that used to be common in children. Before the development of vaccination, it was a common childhood disease worldwide. It’s most recognizable by the painful swellings of the salivary glands at the side of the face under the ears (parotid glands).

Causes of mumps:

The cause of mumps is the mumps virus, which spreads easily from person to person through infected saliva. Mumps can spread by breathing in saliva droplets of an infected person who has just sneezed or coughed. You can also contract mumps from sharing utensils or cups with someone who has mumps.

Before vaccination against mumps was available, mumps was very common in school-aged children (5-9yrs). Now it has become less common due to increased vaccination coverage. Now mumps can also occur in adolescents and young adults.

Symptoms of mumps:

Mumps typically starts with a few days of fever; headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, and is followed by swelling of salivary glands. In addition, up to 20% of persons infected with the mumps virus do not show symptoms. Males past puberty who develop mumps have a 15–20 percent risk of infection of testicles.

Diagnosis of mumps:

If your doctor suspects that you or your child has mumps, a virus culture (PCR) or a blood test may be needed. Your immune system normally makes antibodies to help you fight an infection. So if you have mumps, the blood test can detect the antibodies in your system that are fighting the mumps virus.

Treatment options for mumps:

Because mumps is caused by a virus, antibiotics aren’t effective. Like most viral illnesses, a mumps infection must simply run its course. Fortunately, most children and adults recover from an uncomplicated case of mumps within about two weeks. If you or your child has mumps, time and rest are the best treatments. You can take some steps to ease pain and discomfort and keep others from becoming infected.

  • Rest in bed until the fever goes away.
  • Isolate yourself or your child to prevent spreading the disease to others. Take pain relievers
  • Use a warm or cold compress to ease the pain of swollen glands.
  • Avoid foods that require lots of chewing. Instead, try broth-based soups or soft foods, such as mashed potatoes or cooked oatmeal, for nourishment.
  • Avoid citrus fruits or juices, which stimulate saliva production.
  • Drink plenty of fluids

Complications of mumps:

Mumps will usually pass without causing serious damage to a person’s health. Serious complications are rare. Most mumps complications involve inflammation and swelling in some part of the body, such as testicles, pancreas, ovaries, breasts and brain membranes and fluid around the brain and spinal cord. In rare cases, mumps can cause hearing loss and  pregnancy loss.

Prevention of mumps:

In general, you’re considered immune to mumps if you’ve previously had the infection or if you’ve been immunized against mumps. The mumps vaccine is usually given as a combined measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, which contains the safest and most effective form of each vaccine.

Two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended before a child enters school:

  • The first between ages 12 and 15 months
  • The second between ages 4 and 6 years, or between 11 and 12 if not previously given

Once both doses are given, the vaccine provides 95% protection against mumps.

Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of mumps.

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