What is Mumps and How to Avoid It?

Mumps is an infectious virus that causes inflammation of your parotid salivary glands (between your ears and jaw). The classic sign of mumps is “chipmunk cheeks.”

What is mumps?

The most effective way to prevent mumps is through vaccination. Two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) are 88% effective at preventing it, providing lifetime protection. In Australia, immunisation programs have proven highly successful; however, cases still occur in countries without such programs.

How can I contract mumps?

Mumps can be spread through the air when infected people cough or sneeze into you. Additionally, touching surfaces that have infected droplets on them or sharing items such as drinks and utensils with someone who has the illness increases your risk.

Mumps usually begin two to four days after exposure to the virus, when you may feel feverish and ill. You may have a stiff neck, headache and aching muscles as well. In addition, pain and swelling of salivary glands in areas such as your mouth, throat, nose and throat can occur.

Your salivary glands may swell over several days, but this will only occur occasionally and be painful when they do. You may also experience other symptoms like muscle aches, fatigue or diarrhea.

When you have the mumps, it is essential to stay home from school, childcare or work. Mumps is highly contagious so make sure others are kept at home until your doctor approves for you to go back out.

You might experience other symptoms that don’t quite match up to mumps, such as high fever or headache. Be sure to inform your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any other signs or symptoms to determine what’s causing them.

Can I Have the Mumps Vaccine?

The mumps vaccine is safe and effective, as it’s included in both MMR and MMRV vaccinations. It is recommended for everyone, including children and adults who have never received this shot before.

Not everyone should receive the mumps vaccine, including those who are allergic to gelatin or neomycin, have an immune deficiency with very low levels of antibodies (hypogammaglobulinemia or multiple myeloma). You also should not receive this vaccination if you’re pregnant.

Your healthcare provider will diagnose mumps based on your history of symptoms and physical examination. They may order laboratory tests such as antibody testing, viral cultures or real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction.

During your examination, the doctor may ask about any swelling in your salivary glands. If there’s a fever, they might prescribe medicine to bring down your temperature. Your physician may also suggest rest, over-the-counter pain relievers and ice packs as ways to relieve symptoms.

Treatment for mumps consists of supportive measures, such as bed rest, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling. You should also drink plenty of fluids and eat softer foods to maximize comfort.

Mumps is an extremely contagious illness and can spread to many people, even those who have been vaccinated. That’s why it is so important to get vaccinated against Mumps.