Mumps: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection of the salivary glands that is transmitted from person to person through saliva, nasal secretions and close contact. The most commonly affected age group in children is between 5 and 15. A common symptom of mumps is swelling of the salivary glands, making the patient's face look like a hamster.
How is Mumps transmitted?
Once the mumps virus enters the upper respiratory tract, it is spread from one infected person to another through contact with saliva or respiratory secretions (such as mucus). Mumps can also spread through contact with objects, such as toys or water drinking glasses that have been infected by a sick person.
Symptoms of Mumps
Once a person is infected with the virus, mumps symptoms usually develop within 14 to 25 days.
The most common symptom of mumps is swelling of the parotid glands, a pair of glands that are responsible for producing saliva. Parotid glands are located just below the ears, on either side of the face. The swelling usually affects both glands which can cause pain, tenderness, and difficulty in swallowing.
Other symptoms are–
- Feeling unwell
- Difficulty in chewing
- Joint pain
- Dry mouth
- Mild stomach ache
- Loss of appetite
What causes Mumps?
It may be transmitted through respiratory secretions (such as saliva) from people who already have the disease. The virus travels from the airways to the salivary glands and multiplies, causing the glands to swell.
Causes of mumps are-
- Sneezing or coughing.
- Using and eating on the same person's tableware.
- Sharing food and drink with someone who is infected.
- Physical contact.
- An infected person touches their nose or mouth and then transfers it to a surface for others to touch.
Individuals infected with the mumps virus are infectious for about 15 days (6 days before symptoms begin and up to 9 days after onset). The mumps virus belongs to the paramyxovirus family, a common cause of infection, especially in children.
How is Mumps diagnosed?
Doctors can usually diagnose mumps by swelling of the salivary glands. If the glands are not swollen and doctors suspect mumps based on other symptoms, they culture the virus. The culture is done with swabbing in the inside of the cheek or throat. The swab collects mucus and cells and sends it to a lab to be tested for the mumps virus. Other than mumps, any other infection can also cause swelling of the salivary glands.
How to prevent the spread of Mumps?
There are a number of precautions that must be taken to prevent the spread of infection-
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
- Do not go to work/school until 5 days after symptoms appear.
- Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing.
- Get vaccinated.
Who must take the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella)vaccine?
You should be vaccinated if you do not meet the criteria-
- Pregnant women of childbearing age.
- Attending another college or high school.
- Work in hospitals, medical facilities, children's centers or school.
- Planning a trip abroad.
Side effects of MMR vaccine
- The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective.
- Most of the people do not experience any side effects from the vaccine. However, some people may have a mild fever, rash or joint pain.
- In rare cases, seizures caused by fever may occur in children receiving the MMR vaccine. However, these seizures are not associated with long-term problems.
Home remedies for Mumps
Ginger has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Make a paste of dry ginger powder and water and apply it on the area that looks swollen.
Aloe Vera is an excellent remedy for mumps as it has antioxidants and antibacterial properties. Peel off a fresh aloe vera leaf and rub the gel over the affected area to reduce swelling and pain.
Warm or cold compress-
Using hot or cold compress is an effective way to relieve swollen gland pain caused by mumps.
Fenugreek seeds have antioxidants. Grind the fenugreek seeds along with the asparagus seeds until they form a thick paste. Applying this paste to the affected area provides relief in pain.
Neem works very well in treating mumps. Crush the leaves and mix an equal amount of turmeric powder to make a paste with a little water and apply it on the swollen area. This will provide great relief from the mumps.
Avoid citrus foods-
Stay away from citrus fruits and cottage cheese. Instead, drink water and vegetable soup.
Get enough rest and relaxation until the fever goes away.
When to see a doctor?
See your doctor if you or your child have signs and symptoms of mumps. Tell your doctor beforehand that you suspect mumps so that steps can be taken to prevent the virus from spreading to other people.