March 22, 2017
Mumps is a viral infection that can occur in children and adults who have contact with saliva or with mucus from the nose and throat of infected persons. Mumps used to be a very common childhood disease but its incidence has reduced drastically with the advent of immunisation.
It currently features as one of the ‘Ms’ in the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccination. However, in spite of vaccinations, a child may still get mumps, often a milder form.
Symptoms of mumps
As with all viral infections, fever, headache, fatigue, muscle pains and lack of appetite, may be present. The characteristic feature of mumps is the swelling of the salivary glands. Most commonly, this shows up from the lower part of the ear, lifting it and extending downward as if exaggerating robust cheeks. The swelling can occur on both sides of the face or on just one side. There could also be swelling of the lymph nodes under the chin.
Complications of mumps
Sometimes, mumps can result in complications in other parts of the body. It can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or its lining (meningitis). In those who get it after puberty, it can cause painful inflammation of the testis (orchiditis) in young men and of the ovary (oophoritis) or breast (mastitis) in young ladies. Also, deafness or infertility may result but thankfully, these are both uncommon.
Treatment of mumps
While paracetamol or ibuprofen will help with the pain and fever, keeping your child comfortable with adequate fluids and plenty TLC is key. Mumps does not ordinarily need any medication but it is important to visit a doctor or consult with one online so that you can get proper guidance and for follow-up to handle complications if they arise. Under no circumstances must aspirin be given in order to avoid Reye’s syndrome.
You should check if your child is up to date on their immunization schedule. Contact your local immunisation centre or reach a specialist online for more guidance. Any child who has mumps should be kept at home until they are no longer contagious. There is also a note of caution to pregnant women because contracting mumps gives a higher risk of having a malformed baby.