What is mumps? — Mumps is an infection caused by a virus. It causes swelling of the glands in front of the ears and above the jaw . These glands are called “parotid” glands.
Mumps used to be much more common than it is now. Few people get mumps now because most children get a vaccine that helps prevent the infection. It is called the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine combines vaccines for mumps and 2 other infections (measles and rubella) in one shot. Doctors recommend that all children get the MMR vaccine as part of their routine childhood vaccines.
What are the symptoms of mumps? — Some people have no symptoms. But in most people, the early symptoms include:
●Feeling tired and achy
About 2 days after the early symptoms start, the parotid glands become swollen.
How does mumps spread? — If you have not had mumps or had the MMR vaccine, you can catch mumps just by being around someone who is infected. After you catch the infection, symptoms start in about 14 to 18 days.
Should I go to the doctor or nurse if I think my child or I have mumps? — No. Do not go to the doctor or nurse without calling first. Your doctor or nurse might be able to tell you what to do over the phone. That way you will not risk infecting other people at the doctor’s office.
If there is an outbreak of mumps in your community, meaning that a lot of people are coming down with it, call the doctor even if you and your family members have no symptoms. The doctor might suggest that you get another dose of the mumps vaccine—even if you already had the vaccine. That’s because another dose of the vaccine might keep you from getting sick.
Is there anything I can do on my own to feel better? — Yes. To help your symptoms, your doctor or nurse might recommend that you:
●Put heat on the swollen area. Wet a clean wash cloth with warm water and put it on the area. When the wash cloth cools, reheat it with warm water and put it back on. Repeat these steps for 10 to 15 minutes every few hours.
●Take over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen (sample brand name: Tylenol) or ibuprofen (sample brand names: Advil, Motrin). These medicines help ease pain and fever. Adults can also take aspirin for pain and fever. But NEVER give aspirin for fever to a child or teenager who is younger than 18 years old. In children and teens, aspirin can cause a dangerous condition called Reye syndrome.
When will I feel better? — People with mumps usually get better in about 2 weeks. In rare cases, mumps can cause other problems, including:
●Swelling of one or both testicles in boys and men
●Inflammation of the ovaries in girls and women
●Infections in and around the brain
Does the MMR vaccine cause autism? — No. After doing many careful studies, scientists have not found any link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Many years ago, one study found a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. But that study turned out to be false.