Mumps is a fairly contagious viral disease (although not as contagious as chickenpox) and is caused by the myxo virus; it is something that has plagued the human race for centuries.
Generally speaking, most cases of mumps are in children aged from 5 to 14 years, although cases in young adults are on the increase. Mumps is rare to be found in infants and babies.
But fortunately, with the aid of modern medicine, a mumps vaccine can now be administered – but this only protects against mumps. However, it is far more common for the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to be given; as this immunizes the child against all 3 diseases in one go.
Symptoms of mumps:
The other most common symptoms of mumps include:
fever with high temperature
loss of appetite
swelling and pain in the patotid glands
loss of appetite
nausea and vomiting.
These symptoms are not usually serious, but mumps can cause some other serious and rare complications. These include arthritis, kidney and pancreas problems, deafness, and inflammation of the thyroid gland, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and meningitis. Medical treatment should be obtained immediately if there is any sign of these occurring.
It is also noted that serious complications of mumps are more common among adults than amongst younger children.
Apart from the well known symptoms of swelling to either or both sides of the cheeks and neck, mumps in adolescent males can sometimes result in the development of orchitis. This is a very painful inflammation of the testicles that can, in some rare cases, result in sterility.
Approximately 20-30% of infected people do not have any symptoms of mumps at all, and they are not even aware that they even have the disease.
Mumps is transmitted by airborne means or through direct contact with infected droplets or saliva, which are ejected from the body during coughing and sneezing.
Mumps being a virus, and like all viral diseases, mumps is not able to be treated with antibiotics. Taking paracetamol and drinking plenty of water are beneficial but avoid acidic fruit juices (lemonade, orange juice etc) as these can increase parotid pain.
Normally the infection can simply be left to run its course, while the body’s defences fight off the disease. Most people can expect to recover from mumps within 2 to 3 weeks.
Once you have had mumps, it is very rare that you can develop the disease again, because of the immunity your body developed while fighting off the initial attack by the disease.
Although a number of people are not keen on any form of vaccination for their children it is still the best way to avoid the childhood disease of mumps.