What is Mumps?
Mumps is an inflammation of your parotid glands. Your parotid glands can be found at the back of each of your cheeks and is what produces saliva. There are three sets of these glands and are located below the ears, behind the ears, and on each side of the face. At one time was a childhood disease that was very common and could be found worldwide but now there is a vaccine for this disease. The vaccine is given as part of a combination of three vaccines called a Mumps, Measles, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. This vaccine is given in two doses. The initial vaccine is given when the child is a year old and then a booster is given at four years old. This vaccine will give a child an eighty percent effective immunity from contacting this disease. Before there was a vaccine most cases of the mumps appeared in the early spring or late winter.
When a person is exposed to mumps there is usually an incubation period of fourteen to eighteen days before any symptoms start to appear. There are some who have the mumps who can have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. When the initial symptoms, usually within forty-eight hours after the infection begins, they can include:
- A low grade fever which can last for a few days
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and weakness
- Muscle aches.
- Pain while swallowing or chewing
On the third day is when you will usually find that there is swelling and tenderness of the parotid gland and your cheeks will puff out because of the swelling. It can affect one or both of your parotid glands. In adolescent boys they may experience a swelling in both of their testes but this will normally go down in four days. If a man contacts the mumps swelling in their testes can also happen and was thought to cause infertility in men. You may also see a spike in temperature up to one hundred three degrees Fahrenheit.
Mumps is a viral infection that is spread through the air. The virus is caused by infected saliva. You can get it if you breathe in the infected saliva droplets if the infected person coughs or sneezes around you. If someone eats from a plate, uses the same utensils, or drinks from a glass or cup used by a person with the infection they may also get the mumps. If you have not had the vaccine you may also get the mumps. You could also get the mumps if someone who is infected touches a surface without washing their hands and then a person touches the same surface and rubes their nose or mouth they can get the virus.
If you suspect that you or your child has the mumps the physician can do a blood test or virus culture to see if you have the disease. The physician will usually do a physical exam and feel the parotid glands below and behind your ears to see if they are swollen. The physician may do a blood test to see if there are antibodies, which your body produces to fight infections, in your system that are fighting this virus. Many times a person can tell they or their child has the mumps just by the symptoms but if you have had the mumps and the symptoms of having the mumps appear you need to check with your physician to see what is causing the symptoms of mumps. The reason is that once you get the mumps you are usually immune to getting them again.
When you are diagnosed with the mumps there are no antibiotics that you can take because it is caused by a virus. The only thing that you can do is treat the symptoms by:
- When you are feeling tired or weak you need to rest.
- To treat the fever you can take over-the-counter pain relievers to help lower your fever and also to help with the muscle aches. You need to make sure that you are not giving your child aspirin because there may be a link between aspirin and Reye’s syndrome.
- You can apply ice packs to your swollen glands
- Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water and other liquids to help prevent dehydration, especially if you have a high fever.
- Because it may be painful to chew and swallow your diet should consist of soft foods like scrambled eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, soup, ice cream, etc.
- You need to take precautions to avoid any acidic beverages or foods that can cause you pain in the salivary glands.
- You can also gargle with warm salt water.
If you have the mumps you should make sure that you are covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Practice good hand washing so you do not spread the virus. Since it can be spread by eating or drinking after someone with the mumps, make sure that you wash their dishes in very hot water and do not eat or drink after them.
Because it is a viral infection, the disease just needs to run its course which is usually within two weeks if it is an uncomplicated case. You can return to work or school after a week because that is when you are considered no long contagious and feel like it. Most people start to feel better after ten days.
Is Mumps contagious?
The answer is yes, it is a very contagious disease. If a person has been exposed to the virus they are contagious approximately six days before the symptoms start to appear and will continue to be contagious until approximately nine days after the symptoms start. Because a person can be contagious up to nine days after the symptoms appear it is best to isolate the person with the mumps for at least five days.
There are many different ways that you can prevent this disease from spreading, which include:
- After your glands start to swell you should stay home from school for at least five days and avoid close contact with others, especially people who have weakened immune systems, elderly people, and babies
- Make sure that you have been vaccinated for mumps
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough.
- Make sure that you wash your hands in hot water with soap
- Do not share anything that you are eating or drinking with others.
Pictures of Mumps…