Mumps is an infectious viral (paramyxovirus) disease that mainly affects your salivary glands (saliva-producing glands). These glands are present near your ears. Mumps can affect one or both these glands. As a result, either one or both the salivary glands tend to swell.
Some Key Facts About Mumps
The incubation period of this disease is 14 days to 18 days. It includes the span between exposure to the virus and the onset of signs and symptoms. Mumps lasts for around 7 to 10 days. Most importantly, even now, when a mumps outbreak starts, it affects non-vaccinated people. It is commonly seen in close-contact surroundings.
Health complications due to mumps include hearing loss, encephalitis, orchitis [ testicular inflammation] , and meningitis. These health conditions are likely to be severe but are rare.
What Are the Symptoms of Mumps?
In most cases, people with mumps either do not show any symptoms, or their symptoms are very mild. The signs and symptoms of the infection include the following –
- Swollen cheeks and jawline
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Pain on both sides of your face around the salivary glands
- Pain in the salivary glands
- Muscle pain
When should you see a doctor ?
It is crucial to pay a visit to your doctor as soon as you suspect that you or your child may have mumps. This disease is extremely contagious. Timely medical assistance is likely to help you prevent it from spreading.
Until you get an appointment, take a lot of rest. If you have pain, you can take over-the-counter painkillers to ease your pain.
An important thing to remember – mumps is not as common and widespread as before. Therefore, swollen glands, pain, and fever might indicate some other health condition, like salivary gland blockage and some other types of viral infections.
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What Are the Causes of Mumps?
Paramyxovirus, an RNA virus causes mumps. This disease is highly contagious. It can spread from one person to the other quickly through the saliva from an infected person. If you are not immunized, you can get it from an infected person via the following modes –
- Sneezing, coughing, or talking loudly
- Sharing spoons, cups, or other utensils
- Close contact with an infected person
How Are Mumps Diagnosed and Treated?
If your doctor suspects that you may have mumps, they will first ask you whether you are vaccinated and whether you have come in contact with an infected person. Also, they may recommend a blood test to identify the presence of mumps.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for mumps. Plus, as it is a viral infection, antibiotics do not work either. However, you can manage your symptoms to ease your discomfort. It includes –
- Taking over-the-counter medicines for pain relief such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
- Taking plenty of rest
- Drinking lots of water and other non-alcoholic fluids
- Eating soft and easy to digest food
- Applying ice packs to ease swollen glands
- Avoid eating spicy and sour food
How Can You Prevent Mumps?
Vaccination is the best preventive measure for mumps. In most cases, people develop immunity against the disease once they get effectively vaccinated. The mumps vaccine is a combined dose of measles, mumps, and rubella. It is known as MMR. Here are the recommended doses of the vaccine –
In the case of children, your doctor is most likely to recommend two doses of the vaccine before your kid is ready to go to school. The doses include –
- The first dose, when the age of your child is between 12-months to 15-months
- The second dose, when the age of your child is between 4-years and 6-years
If your child is a teenager, he or she should get two doses of the vaccine 28-days apart.
Adults need two doses of the MMR vaccine at a gap of 28 days.
- International Travelers, college Students, and Healthcare Workers
International travelers, college students, and healthcare professionals should get two doses of the vaccine to ensure complete protection. A single dose might not be completely effective.
- Women in Their Childbearing Age
Women in their childbearing age, who are not pregnant yet, can get one dose of the vaccine under medical supervision.
Who Should Not Go for MMR Vaccination?
Some people should not receive the MMR vaccine. Others might need to wait. You should not opt for the MMR vaccination if you-
- Suffer from blood disorders and life-threatening allergies
- Are pregnant
- Suffer from autoimmune conditions, like cancer and HIV
- Are undergoing treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation, steroids, or immunotherapy
- Have a family history of immune-related health conditions
- Have received a blood transfusion
- Suffer from tuberculosis
- Have taken vaccination in the past 4-weeks
Who Does Not Need an MMR Vaccine?
You do not need a vaccine if –
- You have had two doses of the vaccine as a child
- You are more than 63 years of age (born before 1957)
- Your blood examination report shows that you are immune to mumps, measles, and rubella
Is the MMR Vaccine Safe?
Yes, this vaccine is completely safe with no or negligible side effects. Although most people do not experience any side effects, some may get a mild fever, joint pain, or rash for a short span.
In some rare cases, children might get seizures due to fever after the vaccination. These convulsions do not cause long-term problems. However, immediate medical attention is a must.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), there is no connection between this vaccine and autism (a developmental disorder).
Can There be Complications Due to Mumps?
Although the incidences of complications due to mumps are rare, they can be severe. It damages the following parts of the body –
- Testicles – When there is inflammation in one or both the testicles, this condition is known as orchitis. This condition can be painful. However, there is no link between orchitis and sterility.
- Brain – If there is a swelling in your brain owing to viral infections like mumps, it is known as encephalitis. It can be life-threatening if left untreated.
- Meninges (membranes that encase your brain and spinal cord) can get affected , leading to meningitis.
Other health complications due to mumps include the following –
- Hearing Loss – Mumps can lead to loss of hearing in either or both the ears.
- Miscarriage – If you get mumps during your pregnancy, it can lead to miscarriage.
- Heart Disease – Although rarely, mumps can also lead to certain heart conditions such as abnormal heartbeat, heart muscle disease, etc.
It is important to take adequate rest, follow preventative measures, and get in touch with your doctor as soon as you think that you might have mumps. You must also quarantine yourself as this infection is extremely contagious.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Do you need to stay away from people when you have mumps?
Yes, mumps is a highly contagious disease. So, you are likely to infect other people, as well. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid close contact with other people, going to school or work for at least five days after you have inflammation in your salivary glands. The best thing to do is to stay at home and live in a separate room, if possible.
- You got the MMR vaccine. Can you still get mumps?
If you have got the MMR vaccine, you are nine times less susceptible to the infection than people who have not taken the vaccine. However, in some cases, even a fully vaccinated (received two doses) person can get mumps under certain conditions. These include being in close contact with an infected person for a prolonged time. However, if a vaccinated person gets the infection, he or she is more likely to experience less severe symptoms in comparison to a non-vaccinated person.
- What type of food should you eat when you have mumps?
You should eat soft foods such as soups, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, mashed rice , etc., that do not need chewing. Chewing can aggravate your pain. Also, avoid eating foods that are sour as these can spur the production of saliva and increase pain.
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