Mumps is an infection of the parotid glands. These glands are located on the side of the face, near the ear. Because of the mumps vaccine, this condition is not as common as it once was in the United States.
Swollen Parotid Gland
The virus is usually spread through contact with an infected person's saliva. The mumps virus spreads easily among people in close contact.
Mumps are more common in children and adolescents between the ages of 10-19 years of age. Other factors that may increase your chance of mumps include:
- Being unvaccinated and exposed to people who have mumps
- Being born after 1956 and never having mumps, or not being vaccinated after first birthday
- Season: winter
- Having a weakened immune system, even if you have been vaccinated
About one-third of cases do not have symptoms. Symptoms often occur 2-3 weeks after exposure to the virus.
Mumps may cause:
- Painful swelling of the parotid glands
- Lack of appetite
- Sore throat
- Stiff neck
- Nausea and vomiting
Other areas may also be affected, such as:
- Swelling and pain under the tongue, jaw, or front of the chest
- In males: painful inflammation of the testicles
- In females—inflammation of the ovaries, which results in pain or tenderness in the abdomen
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The diagnosis will be based on these findings.
There is no specific treatment for mumps. Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics.
In general, mumps will last about 10-12 days. Comfort measures may include:
- Applying a hot or cold compresses to swollen areas
- Gargling with warm salt water to soothe a sore throat
- Treating high fever with an over-the-counter pain reliever
- Drinking plenty of liquids
- Eating a soft, bland diet
Aspirin is not usually recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent mumps. The vaccine contains live viruses that can no longer cause disease. The mumps vaccine is usually given in combination with:
The regular schedule for giving the vaccine is at age 12-15 months and again at age 4-6 years.
Ask your doctor if the vaccine is right for you. In general, avoid the vaccine if you:
- Have had severe allergic reactions to vaccines or vaccine components
- Are pregnant—Avoid pregnancy for 1-3 months after receiving the vaccine
- Have a weakened immune system
- Have a high fever or severe upper respiratory tract infection
If you are not vaccinated, avoid contact with someone who has mumps. Discuss the benefits of vaccination with your doctor.
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Kassianos G. Vaccination for tomorrow: the need to improve immunisation rates. J Fam Health Care. 2010;20(1):13-6.
Mumps. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mumps. Updated January 9, 2015. Accessed June 9, 2015.
Mumps. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 8, 2015. Accessed June 9, 2015.
Mumps. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/sick/mumps.html. Updated July 2012. Accessed June 9, 2015.
Mumps. Immunization Action Committee website. Available at: http://www.vaccineinformation.org/mumps. Updated January 12, 2015. Accessed June 9, 2015.
Wilson KF, Meier JD, et al. Salivary gland disorders. 2014;89(11):882-888.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Fabienne Daguilh, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.