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  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52


Mumps is a viral illness resulting in the painful swelling of the parotid salivary glands. These glands are situated in front of and below the ears, inside the angle of the jaw. Of all the most common childhood diseases, mumps has the longest incubation period. 14-24 days may pass from the time of exposure until the appearance of symptoms. Children with mumps are contagious 2-3 days before and up to 7-8 days after the disease breaks out. Although very young children may contract mumps, the disease is most common after the age of 2 (Collins, 2003;, 1998-2010; Wikipedia, 2010).


How do you catch mumps?

Mumps is the least contagious of the 5 major childhood diseases and requires close contact for the infection to occur. It is spread by airborne respiratory secretions from the nose and throat of the infected individual. It can also be transmitted through the sharing of food, drinks, and kissing. The virus enters the body of another person through the airways, is carried in the bloodstream and may land up almost anywhere – in the kidneys, thyroid gland, sexual glands and last, but not least, the parotid glands, where the virus thrives (, 1998-2010; wikipedia, 2010).



·                Mumps begins with vague virus-like symptoms such as fever, headaches, nausea and vomiting.

·                A day after the onset of symptoms, your child may complain of pain beneath the earlobe and in the jaw.

·                Parotid inflammation, or parotitis, resulting in swelling and local pain, especially when chewing, usually occurs on the third day of the illness. This gives your child a puffy, hamster-like appearance. In 90% of cases, the swelling is apparent on both sides (bilateral) but it can occur unilaterally in some children.

·                Other symptoms can include dry mouth, sore face, earache, the swelling of other glands in the body, and in more serious cases, loss of voice.

·                Mumps is usually a mild disease and your child’s symptoms will generally disappear within 7-10 days.

·                Although the only overt symptom of mumps is swollen glands, the virus may affect other organs of the body, namely the brain, gastrointestinal organs, heart and testicles. When mumps involves the vital organs, serious complications may ensue. As a result, all children are encouraged to have the MMR vaccination if possible, to prevent the complications associated with the illness.

·                Some children who are exposed to the mumps virus do not develop any obvious symptoms. Approximately 50% of adults who think they have not had mumps are immune to the virus (Collins, 2003; Leary, 1990; Wikipedia, 2010).



Diagnosis is usually made on the basis of clinical symptoms. Your doctor will perform a physical examination and the presence of swollen parotid glands will confirm the diagnosis of mumps. If uncertainty exists, a saliva or blood test may be carried out to ensure that the correct diagnosis has been made (Wikipedia, 2010).



·                There is no specific treatment for mumps, therefore treatment is aimed at symptomatic relief.

·                Intermittently apply ice or heat to the affected areas (parotid glands, neck, testicular area).

·                Swollen glands can be very painful. Give your child analgesics such as paracetamol to ease her discomfort and treat her fever.

·                Give your child plenty of fluids but avoid fruit juices or any acidic foods, since they stimulate the salivary glands and may increase pain.

·                Since mumps commonly involves the gastrointestinal organs and your child may be experiencing nausea and vomiting, a clear fluid, bland diet is recommend in the beginning stages of the illness (Collins, 2003; Leary, 1990; Wikipedia, 2010).


Possible complications

Although the inflammation of the parotid glands and high fever caused by mumps produces pain, discomfort and general malaise, the more serious repercussions involve the infection of other bodily organs and systems:

·                Pancreatitis, or an inflammation of the pancreas, is an uncommon but serious complication of mumps, manifesting as abdominal pain and vomiting.

·                Adolescent boys and adult men may develop a condition known as orchitis that involves the inflammation of one or both testicles. This condition can be quite painful and may, but does not necessarily, result in sterility in some men. Even in cases where sterility occurs, there is still a chance that fertility may return. Boys who have not yet reached puberty rarely get this kind of inflammation.

·                The risk of women contracting oophoritis, or an inflammation of the ovaries, is very small. However, if this should occur, it has no effect on fertility.

·                A less rare complication of mumps is meningitis. This is an inflammation of the membranes of the brain or spinal cord that usually appears 3-10 days after the onset of mumps. Although meningitis is a serious disease, it usually occurs mildly in connection with mumps.

·                Encephalitis is a very rare complication of mumps, and is fatal in 1% of cases when it occurs (Collins, 2003;, 1998-2010; Wikipedia, 2010).


Contact your doctor immediately if:

Your child has mumps and is experiencing severe headaches, with or without vomiting, or has intense abdominal pain. She may need to be admitted to hospital for testing to rule out the presence of encephalitis or viral meningitis (Collins, 2003).