Mumps is a contagious viral disease that causes painful swelling of the parotid glands (the largest of the three major pairs salivary glands, located in the cheeks). The disease usually strikes children and teens. It usually clears up completely after running its course without long-term complications. Before a mumps vaccine was introduced in 1967, about half of all children contracted mumps. Since then, only around 1,600 cases are reported each year in the United States.
The following signs and symptoms often accompany mumps:
Symptoms usually start 14 - 24 days after infection with the virus.
Mumps is caused by a virus spread through infected saliva. You can get mumps from breathing in droplets of the virus when an infected person has coughed or sneezed, or by sharing utensils.
People who have not been vaccinated, particularly children and teens, are at risk for developing mumps. Mumps occur most often in children between the ages of 5 - 9.
If you have symptoms associated with mumps, you should see your health care provider. Your health care provider will check for swelling in your face, especially below the ear and above the jaw. Your doctor may also do a blood test or a viral culture to see if the mumps virus is present. Routine hearing tests on young children can detect any temporary or, rarely, permanent loss.
Vaccination is the key to preventing mumps. The live mumps virus is about 95% effective in preventing the disease. The vaccine is available alone or in the combination vaccine of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR). Protection usually lasts at least 20 years with very few side effects. It is generally given at 15 months of age, but may be given to teens and adults as well. Women should not be vaccinated during pregnancy, and people with fever or allergies to eggs should first talk with their health care provider.
If you have mumps, you should stay out of school or work for 7 - 10 days after symptoms begin, while you are highly contagious. You should eat soft foods, avoid acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus or tomato products, and take pain relievers as needed. Do not give aspirin to children under 18 because of the risk of Reye' s syndrome, a rare but serious illness. Give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) instead as directed by your pediatrician.
A man with swollen testicles should rest in bed until symptoms get better. Relieve pain with ice packs, or by supporting the scrotum with cotton or gauze, or an athletic supporter. A health care provider may do a hearing test on young children who develop mumps, to detect any possible loss of hearing. If the person develops pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) with nausea and vomiting, the doctor may administer IV fluids.
No medications other than pain relievers are needed for uncomplicated cases of mumps.
Mumps usually gets better on its own, although should always see your health care provider if you have symptoms of mumps. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms, and some CAM therapies may help.
Adults may find that these nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms and strengthen the immune system. For children, make sure they get plenty of fluids and eat soft foods until they feel better.
These supplements may also help:
Herbs are generally a safe way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider to diagnose your problem before starting any treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 - 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 - 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 - 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted.
Few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies. A professional homeopath, however, may recommend one or more of the following treatments for mumps based on his or her knowledge and clinical experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person' s constitutional type -- your physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate remedy for a particular individual.
For uncomplicated cases of mumps, the prognosis is excellent. Complications are more likely in people who have reached puberty and beyond. These may include meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and its membranous coverings), deafness, orchitis, pancreatitis, and miscarriage in early pregnancy.
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