Childhood Diseases Common Illnesses Mumps

Mumps is a highly contagious virus. Symptoms of mumps start out as fever, muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite. These symptoms usually last a few days and are followed by swollen salivary glands. Keep reading to learn about this childhood disease.

Symptoms of Mumps

Because its symptoms are common of many illnesses, about half of those infected with mumps may not even know it. The first symptoms are typically a headache and slight fever, accompanied by loss of appetite. The tell-tale sign of mumps, however, is swollen parotid glands. These glands are one of three types of salivary glands and are located in the back of each cheek, between the ear and the jaw. Swelling can occur in one or both of these glands (your child may look like a hamster with food in its cheeks!)

The mumps disease also has other symptoms that are less common. Mumps sometimes affects the other salivary glands, which can lead to swelling under the tongue, in the jaw and in the chest. Even more dangerous is the rare possibility of swelling of the brain or other organs. In adolescent and adult males, inflammation of the testicles may occur, along with fever, chills, nausea, headache or abdominal pain.

Symptoms of Mumps - Childhood Mumps

The Measles, Mumps, Rubella Vaccine

A mumps vaccine was developed in the mid 1960s. Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) is the vaccine used today to treat all three of these diseases. Due to the common practice of regular vaccinations, mumps is no longer a common childhood illness. However, outbreaks do occasionally occur. To protect your child, two MMR vaccinations are recommended, one at 12 to 15 months of age and another at four to six years.

What Parents Need to Know About the Mumps

Mumps is a contagious disease, spread through respiratory droplets from the mouth or nose of an infected person, usually through sneezing or coughing. It can also be passed through direct contact by touching contaminated objects, such as tissues, or sharing a drinking glass.

If you suspect your child may have mumps, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician. Your child’s symptoms may suggest another problem, such as tonsillitis or a blocked salivary gland. It’s always a good idea to get an expert diagnosis through a blood test or culture sample.

If your child has mumps, you’ll want to monitor her condition and temperature at home. Some doctors recommend ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever and pain. However, you may want to avoid aspirin, as it’s been linked to Reyes Disease when used to treat viruses. This can lead to liver failure and, in rare cases, can be fatal.

Doctors recommend feeding your child bland food that is easy to chew and avoiding citrus drinks, which may lead to excess pain. Warm or cold packs may ease the pain of swollen glands. Call your doctor right away if you notice stiffness of the neck, convulsions, severe headache, or if your child is having trouble staying awake. These could be signs of brain inflammation. Also watch for abdominal or testicular pain, and call your doctor should either occur.

Though mumps is rare due to the MMR vaccine, it’s wise to know its symptoms, as outbreaks do occur.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Staff. (2009). About mumps. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/mumps/about/index.html.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Staff. (2008). MMR vaccine: The best protection against mumps. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/features/mumps/.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Staff. (n.d.). Mumps. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/mumps/default.htm#disease.

Klein, J. (2009). Mumps. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from the Kids Health Web site: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/mumps.html#.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Mumps. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mumps/DS00125/DSECTION=tests-and-diagnosis.