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A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M.; 2013.

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet].

Mumps

Epidemic parotitis

Last reviewed: May 14, 2014.

Mumps is a contagious disease that leads to painful swelling of the salivary glands. The salivary glands produce saliva, a liquid that moistens food and helps you chew and swallow.

Causes

The mumps are caused by a virus. The virus is spread from person to person by drops of moisture from your respiratory tract, such as when you sneeze. It is also spread through direct contact with items that have infected saliva on them.

Mumps most often occurs in children ages 2 - 12 who have not been vaccinated against the disease. However, the infection can occur at any age. The time between being exposed to the virus and getting sick (incubation period) is about 12 - 24 days.

Mumps may also infect the:

Symptoms

  • Sore throat
  • Swelling of the parotid glands (the largest salivary glands, located between the ear and the jaw)
  • Swelling of the temples or jaw (temporomandibular area)

Other symptoms of this disease that can occur in males:

Exams and Tests

A physical exam shows swollen glands. No testing is required in most cases.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for mumps.

Things you can do to relieve symptoms include:

  • Apply ice or heat packs to the neck area.
  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) to relieve pain. (Do not give aspirin to children with a viral illness because of the risk for Reye syndrome.)
  • Drink extra fluid.
  • Eat soft foods.
  • Gargle with warm salt water.

Outlook (Prognosis)

People with this disease do well most of the time, even if organs are involved. After the illness is over, you will be immune to mumps for the rest of your life.

Possible Complications

Infection of other organs may occur, including orchitis.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you or your child has mumps and:

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if convulsions occur.

Prevention

MMR immunization (vaccine) protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. It should be given to children 12 - 15 months old. The vaccine is given again between ages 4 - 6, or between ages 11 - 12, if it wasn't given before.

Recent outbreaks of the mumps have reinforced the importance of having all children vaccinated.

References

  1. Mason WH. Mumps. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF. Kliegman: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 240.
  2. Litman N, Baum SG. Mumps virus. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 157.

Review Date: 5/14/2014.

Reviewed by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

What works?

  • Chinese medicinal herbs for mumpsChinese medicinal herbs for mumps
    Mumps (epidemic parotitis) is an infection caused by the multiplication of the mumps virus in the upper respiratory tract. It can range from a mild upper respiratory disease to serious complications. Herbal medicines have been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as the main therapy to prevent and treat mumps for thousands of years. Many Chinese physicians believe that Chinese medicinal herbs are effective in alleviating symptoms and reducing the duration of mumps.
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  • Head and neck glands.

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