What are Mumps?

Mumps is the common term for the condition parotitis, which is a viral infection affecting the salivary glands. It is very rare in the United States today, although it used to be quite common due to the fact that it is easily spread from person to person. Similar to other highly infectious diseases, mumps can be passed on when an uninfected individual kisses an infected person or touches a contaminated surface. It can also transfer through the air when someone sneezes or coughs.

Patients can return to school or work after about a week if they feel well enough to do so, since at this point they are no longer contagious. The infection typically lasts for a couple of weeks. Complications are rare but can occur if mumps is left untreated. Due to the nature of the infection, it is extremely unusual for anyone to contract it a second time. Being exposed once provides lifelong protection against future exposure.

What are the Symptoms of Mumps?

Though many people will experience symptoms some will experience no symptoms at all.

Symptoms include

  • Painful swollen salivary glands
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle ache
  • Neck pain
  • Chills
  • Pelvic pain
  • General discomfort
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Dry mouth
  • Hearing loss
  • Swollen neck

How are Mumps Treated?

Mumps is easily prevented by receiving an MMR vaccine, which protects the person against rubella, mumps, and measles. When the virus does cause infection, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms.

Treatments include

The use of medications such as Naproxen, Ibuprofen, and acetaminophen to relieve pain, reduce fever, and alleviate inflammation. It is also helpful to rest whenever the patient feels tired and to apply ice packs to the swollen glands. Drinking plenty of water is important to stave off dehydration, and it is better to eat soft nonacidic foods that are easy to chew.

Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017