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Health Information For Parents
Mumps is an infection caused by a virus. It can infect many parts of the body, but is best known for causing swelling of the parotid glands. These glands, which make saliva (spit), are in front of the ear, around the jaw.
Mumps used to be a common childhood illness in the United States, especially in kids 5 to 9 years old. It’s much rarer now, thanks to the mumps vaccine.
Many kids have no symptoms, or very mild symptoms that feel like a cold. Those who do get symptoms might:
Within a couple days, the parotid glands can swell and get painful. This makes the cheeks look puffy. The pain gets worse when the child swallows, talks, chews, or drinks acidic juices (like orange juice). One or both parotid glands can swell. Sometimes one swells a few days before the other.
Rarely, someone might get:
Mumps is contagious. It spreads in tiny drops of fluid when someone with the virus sneezes, coughs, talks, or laughs. Contact with objects they use — like dirty tissues, straws, or drinking glasses — also can pass the virus. If they don’t wash their hands, any surface they touch can spread mumps to others who touch it.
Someone with mumps is most contagious from 2 days before symptoms start to 5 days after they end. Anyone who is infected can pass the disease, even if they don’t have symptoms.
Mumps happens most often in school-age kids and college students. Outbreaks are rare, but can happen. An outbreak is when many people from one area come down with the same disease. Experts are looking into why outbreaks still happen and ways to prevent them.
Most people who get mumps never get it again.
Call the doctor if your child has any mumps symptoms or has been around someone with mumps. The doctor might give you special instructions before you go to the office to protect other patients from the virus.
The doctor will do an exam, ask about symptoms, and check to see if your child got the mumps vaccine. Doctors sometimes send a saliva sample or blood sample for testing.
There’s no specific medical treatment for mumps. To help manage symptoms:
Mumps is caused by a virus, so it can’t be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics work only against bacteria.
Most children with mumps recover fully in about 2 weeks.
The best way to protect your kids is to make sure they’re immunized against mumps.
For most kids, mumps protection is part of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine (MMRV). They get these when they’re 12–15 months old and again when they’re 4–6 years old.
Sometimes people who have been vaccinated still get mumps. But their symptoms will be much milder than if they had not gotten the vaccine.
During a mumps outbreak, doctors may recommend more shots of the MMR vaccine for some people who are more likely to get mumps. Your doctor will have the most current information.
Mumps can sometimes cause rare but severe problems. Call the doctor right away if your child has mumps and:
Watch for belly pain. It can be a sign of problems with the pancreas in either boys or girls, or the ovaries in girls. In boys, watch for high fever with pain and swelling of the testicles.
Other viral infections can cause inflamed parotid glands, such as the flu or coxsackievirus, which are much more common than mumps. Some bacterial infections also can cause it. Rarely, a blockage in the parotid gland (from a salivary stone, which is like a kidney stone) can cause painful swelling.
Find out when and why your child needs to get this vaccine.
Immunizations protect kids from many dangerous diseases. Find out what vaccines your child needs to grow up healthy.
Encephalitis is a rare brain inflammation caused by a virus. The best way to avoid encephalitis is to prevent the illnesses that may lead to it.
Measles is best known for the skin rash it causes. Although rare, outbreaks can happen. Getting your kids fully vaccinated is the best way to protect them from this disease.
Which vaccines does your child need and when? Use this immunization schedule as a handy reference.
Immunizations have protected millions of children from potentially deadly diseases. Learn about immunizations and find out exactly what they do – and what they don’t.
Washing your hands well and often is the best way to keep from getting sick. Here’s how to teach this all-important habit to your kids.
Rubella infection, or German measles, usually is a mild disease in kids that can be prevented with vaccination. Its primary medical danger is to pregnant women because it can affect developing babies.
Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. Although encephalitis sounds scary, understanding its causes, symptoms, and treatment can help you feel prepared to deal with it if you ever need to.
Missing out on shots puts you at more serious risk than you might think. That one little “ouch” moment protects you from some major health problems.
If you’re old enough to read this, you’ve probably had most of your shots. But even bigger kids may need a shot once in a while. Find out more about them in this article for kids.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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