Introduction to Mumps

Mumps is an illness caused by the mumps virus. The term "mumps" comes from "mumble". It came to be applied to the disease due to the side effects it causes.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

Mumps causes fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite. Some rare symptoms of mumps include loss of voice. The most apparent symptom of mumps is the swelling of salivary glands. The swelling of the glands near the jaw line below the ears may give your cheeks a "puffy" appearance.

How mumps are tested?

Physical examinations can easily identify the swollen glands. Diagnosis of mumps is usually on clinic grounds, requiring no laboratory testing. However, in case of uncertainty, testing the saliva or blood may be done. A newer diagnostic test using real-time nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology has already been developed.

What is the treatment for mumps?

There is no specific treatment for mumps. Vaccines are available to prevent or greatly reduce the possibility of getting mumps.

According to CDC:

"Two doses of mumps-containing vaccine, given as combination measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, separated by at least 28 days, are routinely recommended for all children. The first dose is given on or after the first birthday; the second is given at 4 – 6 years of age. MMR is a live, weakened (attenuated) vaccine. Most adults who have not been vaccinated should also receive 1 dose of MMR vaccine, but adults who work in healthcare, a school/university setting, and persons at high risk of exposure to mumps should get 2 doses.

Pregnant women and persons with an impaired immune system should not receive live attenuated vaccines (MMR vaccine). One dose of mumps vaccine will ‘take’ (be effective) in approximately 80% of people vaccinated, but two doses of mumps vaccine will ‘take’ in approximately 90% of people. Therefore, two doses are better at preventing mumps than one dose."

To relieve the symptoms, you can apply ice or heat to the affected neck area. You can also take Acetaminophen or Paracetamol to ease pain. Warm salt gargles, extra fluids may also relieve pain. Avoid fruit juices or acidic foods as these trigger the salivary glands.

Are there complications of mumps?

Complications are not common in children. But to teens and adults, complications such as infertility or subfertility are fairly common. Other complications include: Infection of other organ systems, sterility in older men, mild forms of meningitis, encephalitis, profound but rare sensorineural hearing loss – uni- or bilateral, pancreatitis manifesting as pain abdomen and vomiting, oophoritis (inflammation of ovaries) but fertility is rarely affected.