What Is Mumps?
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Mumps is a type of viral infection that mainly affects the salivary glands, these glands are also called parotid glands. These glands make saliva. There are three groups of salivary glands on all three sides of the mouth which are located behind and below the ears.
The most common symptom of mumps is swollen salivary glands, which last for 14 to 18 days after the symptoms of mumps begin. The duration of the disease is about seven to ten days. Mumps usually includes pain, swelling, and tenderness (pain when touched) in one or both of the glands (cheek and jaw area).
Prevention of mumps includes MMR vaccination etc. There is no specific treatment available for mumps. To reduce the problem of tenderness and swelling in the salivary glands, it can be helpful to compress them with hot and cold things. Some painkillers can also be taken to ease the pain. Some serious complications are also associated with mumps such as meningitis, encephalitis, deafness and swelling, redness and irritation of genitals, etc.
What symptoms develop in mumps?
Symptoms of mumps usually appear between 2 and 3 weeks after the patient is infected. Some people infected with the mumps virus either do not feel any symptoms or develop very mild symptoms. When signs and symptoms do develop, they usually appear about two to three weeks after exposure to the virus and symptoms can include:
- Difficulty in chewing and swallowing
- Swollen salivary glands on one side or both sides of the face
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pain
The main symptom of mumps is swelling in the salivary glands, due to which the cheeks start to swell.
Other symptoms associated with mumps are:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Fever (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Dry mouth
- Joint pain
Mumps occurs in very rare cases in adults. In this case, the symptoms are usually the same. But sometimes the symptoms get a little worse and they are more likely to develop many more complications from mumps.
When should I see a doctor?
If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact a doctor immediately:
- Severe headache
- Symptoms of confusion
- Stiff neck
If you suspect mumps, go to the doctor as soon as possible so that the condition can be tested. While the problem of the mumps is usually not severe, the condition causes symptoms similar to those of a more serious infection such as tonsillitis.
If you are going to the doctor, let them know in advance so that they can take precautions to prevent the spread of infection before you leave.
Causes And Risks Of Mumps
Why does mumps happen?
The cause of mumps or mumps is an infection caused by the mumps virus. It spreads to healthy people through saliva and other spills of an infected person. When mumps disease occurs, the virus reaches the salivary glands from the respiratory system and starts reproducing there, due to which the glands start swelling.
Mumps disease is also a spreading disease like cold and flu. Mumps can be spread by droplets of saliva that can be inhaled or carried from a surface to the mouth or nose. The following are some examples of how mumps disease spreads:
- If a person touches another surface by touching his nose or mouth, then that surface becomes infected and a healthy person can become infected by touching that surface.
- Sneezing or coughing
- Sharing food and drink with an infected person
- Sharing plates or other utensils with an infected person
People who are infected with the mumps virus remain contagious (can spread the disease) for about 15 days (6 days before symptoms start and up to 9 days after they start)
What can increase the risk of mumps?
- Most cases of mumps occur in young adults, usually those born between 1980 and 1990, who were not vaccinated for mumps or who did not develop mumps as a child. Once you are infected with the mumps virus, you develop immunity to deal with the infection for life.
- Working in a school or having lots of kids around
- Working in a health care center such as a hospital or other medical facility
- Being in a place where there are a lot of young people like college
Prevention of Mumps
How to avoid getting mumps?
You can protect your child from mumps by getting your child MMR immunization (for mumps, measles, and rubella) on time. Getting vaccinated against mumps is the best way to prevent mumps.
MMR vaccination is part of the childhood immunization program. When your baby is 12 to 13 months old, they should have one vaccination. The second vaccination should be done before the child starts school. When both doses are combined, the child is 95 percent safe against mumps.
If you have mumps, you should adopt the following methods to prevent it from spreading:
- Use tissue paper when sneezing and then dispose of it safely
- Take at least 5 days off from school or work as soon as the first symptoms of mumps develop
- Regularly washing your hands with soap
How is mumps diagnosed?
To test this condition, the doctor observes and feels the swelling of the patient by touching it, observing the position of the tonsils in the mouth as well as checking the patient’s temperature.
To confirm the test, the doctor takes a sample of sputum or saliva and examines it.
The doctor may also do the following tests to perform the test:
- Taking blood, urine, and sputum samples to confirm the test
- Taking a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the spinal cord for testing is usually only done in more severe cases.
- Examine the inside of the mouth to check the position of the tonsils – because when a person is infected with the mumps virus, their tonsils tend to move to one side.
- Checking the patient’s temperature
- Virus culture or blood tests may also be needed. Your immune system itself makes antibodies to fight any infection. Therefore, if you have got mumps disease, with the help of a blood test, antibodies in the blood can be detected, which are fighting the mumps virus.
How Is Mumps Treated?
There is no treatment available for mumps, so the duration of the disease has to be met. Because the mumps virus does not respond to antibiotics or any other medicines. The main goal of the treatment of mumps is to soothe the symptoms caused by this disease and to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible. Treatment may include the following steps:
- If the salivary glands are swollen and causing discomfort, ice and warm compresses can help soothe the pain.
- Non-aspirin medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help control fever and relieve pain from swollen glands.
- Take rest when you feel tired and weak
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration due to fever
- Eat soups, yogurt, and other bland foods that don’t make chewing difficult (because when your glands swell, you may feel pain while chewing)
- Avoid consuming acidic foods and beverages as these can cause more severe pain in the salivary glands.
If you feel well, you can go back to your office or school a week after your doctor has examined you for mumps. Because after this time you are no longer contagious, that is, you cannot spread this infection to anyone else. The mumps usually lasts for a few weeks. You usually start feeling better after ten days of illness.
Most people who get mumps do not get this disease for the second time in their life. Once you get the virus, you are protected against getting infected again.
Natural Remedies For Mumps :
If your child has mumps, the best treatment is to take rest and wait until the time of illness is over. The doctor can also help a little in the speedy recovery of the child. But to reduce the pain and discomfort and to avoid spreading the disease to others, you can adopt the following methods:
- Rest in bed till the fever subsides.
- Do not eat foods that require excessive chewing. Instead, go for soups, smoothies, and soft foods like mashed potatoes and cooked oatmeal.
- Avoid eating sour foods like citrus fruits and their juices as they stimulate the process of salivation.
- To prevent the spread of the disease, keep the patient isolated from healthy people as a patient with mumps can remain contagious for up to a week after the onset of symptoms.
- Apply ice to the testicles and wear an athletic supporter to soothe the pain and tenderness (pain when touched).
What complications develop from mumps?
Mumps is usually a mild disease. Some serious complications associated with this include meningitis, encephalitis or stable deafness, etc. However, it usually occurs in adolescent and adult patients.
Complications are more common in adults than in children, with the most common complications being:
- Viral meningitis: This condition is the rarest of the common complications. It occurs when the virus spreads into the bloodstream and infects the body’s central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
- Swelling and burning of the pancreas – This condition causes pain in the upper abdomen, occurs in 1 in 20 cases of mumps, and is usually mild.
- Orchitis: In this condition, the testes become inflamed and painful. This happens to one in 5 patients with mumps. Swelling often subsides within a week and tenderness may take longer to subside. This condition causes infertility in some very rare cases.
- Oophoritis: In this condition, there is swelling and pain in the ovaries. It occurs in one in 20 adult women with mumps. As the immune system fights off the virus, the inflammation begins to subside. In very rare cases it can cause infertility.
If a pregnant woman develops mumps between 12 and 16 weeks of pregnancy, she may have a slight risk of miscarriage.
Some Very Rare Complications Of Mumps Are:
- Hearing loss
- Encephalitis: In this condition, due to some neurological problems, there is swelling in the brain, in some cases, it can even become a fatal condition.
Some of these complications are very rare. It is important to seek medical advice and help if a person suspects that they or their child may develop these complications.