Initial symptoms of the mumps will include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle pain, and loss of appetite. These are usually followed by swelling in one or both of the parotid glands. Symptoms are often more severe in adults than in children, and one in three people infected will experience mild or no symptoms at all.
Epidemic parotitis, or mumps, is a viral disease caused by the mumps virus. Mumps is highly contagious and can spread rapidly among those in close proximity to one another. It is spread by way of respiratory droplets and/or direct contacted with someone infected. Only humans can spread and contract the disease.
As a virus, mumps does not respond to medications like antibiotics. Care can be given to increase the comfort of those afflicted, however. Someone with mumps should:
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Eat soft, easy-to-chew foods (soup, yogurt, etc.)
- Use ice to soothe and reduce swelling in glands
- Avoid acidic foods and beverages (these may irritate the glands)
Most children and infants are vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) with the same injection. It’s usually administered first between 12 and 15 months, and a second vaccination is given to school-children between four and six years old. Those born before 1957 who have NOT contracted mumps in their lifetime should consider getting vaccinated, especially if they work in an environment that has a high likelihood of exposure to the virus (schools, hospitals, etc.). There are small risks involved in any immunization, so you should always consult a doctor before receiving one.
Mumps Health Risks
Without a vaccination, the likelihood of contracting mumps increases greatly. Those who contract mumps most often survive, but with the disease come possible complications. Complications of the disease can include infections in the lining of the brain, deafness, pancreatitis, and swelling of the ovaries or testes. These are often more severe in children, so early vaccination is the safest route.