What is Mumps?
Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It is best known for the swollen jaw and puffy cheeks it causes due to swelling of the glands in these areas. Although mumps used to be common in infants, children, and young adults, it has become a rare disease because of the Mumps, Measles, Rubella (MMR) vaccine.
What are the symptoms of mumps?
Some people infected with mumps have very mild or no symptoms. For people who do get sick, symptoms usually take 16-18 days to appear after a person has been infected and last seven to 10 days.
The most common symptoms of mumps are:
- Muscle aches
- Swollen cheeks and jaw
More severe symptoms are rare, but can result in serious medical conditions including:
- Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
- Orchitis (swelling of the testicles) in males who have reached puberty
- Oophoritis (swelling of the ovaries) and/or mastitis (swelling of the breasts) in females who have reached puberty
How is mumps spread?
Mumps can spread from an infected person before they develop symptoms, and for about five days after. If you have mumps, stay home and away from others for five days after the swelling starts under your chin.
The virus can be spread person-to-person through:
- An infected person talking, coughing or sneezing.
- Touching surfaces or objects an infected person touched, such as a doorknob.
- Sharing items, such as water bottles, eating utensils or lip balm with an infected person.
Who is most at risk?
- People who are not vaccinated.
- Anyone spending long amounts of time around an individual with mumps.
- Some people who have received two doses of the MMR vaccine may still get mumps, especially if they have close contact for long periods of time with an infected person.
What should I do if I think I have the mumps?
- If you think you or someone you know has the mumps, call your doctor. If you don't have a doctor, contact your local public health department or emergency room.
- Until you have recommendations from your doctor or a medical professional, stay away from other people to avoid the possibility of giving them mumps.
How is mumps treated?
While there are no medicines to treat mumps, you can treat the symptoms by:
- Drinking fluids such as water to prevent dehydration.
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers.
- Applying a hot or cold compress to swollen areas.
- Gargling with warm salt water to soothe a sore throat.
How can I prevent the measles?
- The best way to prevent mumps is to receive both doses of the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Some adults may want to receive a booster of the MMR vaccine. To get vaccinated or determine your need for a booster, contact your doctor or local public health department.
For more information, call Denver Public Health (303) 602-3614.