Mumps Symptoms

Mumps is an acute, extremely infectious disease caused by a virus that targets saliva glands. It is mainly diagnosed in children between the ages of five and nine, but anyone can contract it. However, mumps is actually a rather uncommon infection these days, since the vaccine was invented in 1967. Immunizations are widespread and the number of children who contract the disease has fallen, though more young adult cases are still seen. One striking characteristic of mumps is that it's similar to chicken pox -- once you contract it, it's very rare to get it again.


What are the Symptoms of Mumps?

First symptoms include a mild fever, a general feeling of unwellness, chills, loss of appetite, dry mouth and throat, headache, and swelling and pain in the glands of the cheeks. The pain worsens when the patient swallows, talks, chews and drinks. It's possible for one set of glands to swell more than the other. This will be followed by a spreading of the soreness and swelling to the ears, and sometimes the tongue, neck and upper chest as well. In children, the symptoms usually fade by the 12th day.

If left unchecked, mumps can progress to much more serious conditions, such as swelling of the brain or encephalitis, and spreading to the spinal chord causing meningitis. Symptoms of these conditions will usually appear a week after the initial swelling of the glands. They include high fever, headache, drowsiness, convulsions, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting.

In adolescent male patients, a condition called orchitis, which is inflammation of the testicles, can occur. This will also include symptoms of high fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain equal to appendicitis. Usually this condition will subside on its own.

In female patients, mumps may spread to the ovaries and pancreas, which will inflict pain and tenderness in the abdomen. This will subside on its own as well. Sometimes a mumps outbreak is so benign that it is not detected. One in three patients have contracted mumps and not been aware of their condition.

Mumps Treatments

Today there is a mumps vaccination available and the initial dose is usually given to children between the ages of 12 and 15 months. A second dose is usually recommended between the ages of 4 and 6.

Your child's doctor will closely examine the patient to determine if there is an outbreak of mumps. Mumps is a virus, so it cannot be treated with antibiotics. Therefore, it must be allowed to run its course with close observation of the child in order to monitor progress and watch for other conditions.

Is it Contagious?

Mumps is extremely contagious it can be passed through tiny molecules of saliva and miniscule drops of liquid from the nasal cavity. It can be carried through the exchange of sneezing, coughing and laughing. The period of contagion lasts from two days before symptoms appear to six days after they're gone. It can also be carried by patients who are not infected.

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