General Practice, Primary Care Doctor


Introduction to Mumps

Mumps is an infection caused by a virus called a paramyxovirus.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What is Mumps?

Mumps is an infection caused by a virus called a paramyxovirus. It is a very contagious disease that is spread by water droplets from a cough or a sneeze. The incidence of mumps has decreased since the introduction of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the UK. Mumps usually affects children, but can occur at any age.

What causes Mumps?

Mumps is an infection caused by a virus called a paramyxovirus.

What are the symptoms of Mumps?

Swelling and pain in your salivary glands is one of the most common symptoms of this infection. This will cause your mouth to feel dry and will mean that chewing and swallowing will be sore. A high temperature, feeling tired, headache are other symptoms you may experience for a few days. The swelling of the glands usually lasts for about 4-8 days. Some people with the mumps virus have no symptoms, however others can develop complications such as: inflamed testicles, brain inflammation (meningitis), hearing loss, inflammation of the heart or pancreas and miscarriage in pregnancy.

Mumps is often diagnosed by your symptoms and examination of the type of glands that are enlarged. Taking a swab from the mouth and testing the saliva in a laboratory now confirm all cases.

How is Mumps treated?

There is no medication to kill the virus that causes mumps. Mumps usually improves over a week without causing long-term problems. Treatment can reduce the severity of some of the symptoms. Paracetamol and/or ibuprofen can ease pain and fever. Drinking plenty of fluids also help with the fever. Having a warm flannel against the swollen gland can also be soothing. It is also important to keep a person infected with mumps away from close contact with others, as it is very infectious. Children immunised against mumps are unlikely to get mumps, however immunisation is not 100% effective. The MMR vaccine is routinely offered to all children aged 12-13 months in the UK and a booster dose is offered to children between 3-5 years.

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