Helping your child through the mumps virus

Mumps is a fairly rare disease these days due to vaccination, but it used to be a quite common childhood illness. While it isn't serious in many cases, mumps does have a fairly high rate of complications. Mumps is caused by the mumps virus and causes swelling of the salivary glands. The most common complication of mumps is sterilization, though there are other complications that finally led a mumps vaccine to be administered to all children. It is not a very common disease these days due to that reason.


Mumps symptoms

The most common symptom of mumps is the characteristic swelling of the neck and cheeks. This causes local pain and difficulty eating. A high fever is also common, as well as headache, and in boys, orchitis, or painful swelling of the testicles. A sore throat may also be a symptom of mumps.

Normally, mumps lasts from about 6 to 9 days, and total incubation period plus symptoms is up to 18 days. Children are advised to stay at home so as not to spread the virus, not share drinks and wash their hands. Rest is recommended strongly to get over the mumps.

Mumps treatment

There is no specific treatment for mumps -- some doctors advise placing an ice pack on the swelling to reduce pain and to take pain relief medication for the pain. Warm salt water gargles, soft food and lots of fluids should be given. A mumps vaccine is highly recommended to prevent mumps. This is given as a part of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) to a child at a year of age. This will prevent most children from ever contracting the disease. There are no antibiotics or anything else that can be given.

Patients are advised to avoid acidic foods and beverages as these can irritate and exacerbate pain and swelling.

History of mumps

Historically, mumps caused sterility, infection of other organs, mild forms of meningitis, hearing loss, and encephalitis. These complications are thankfully rare these days. Death is very rare, and most children recover from the mumps without issue.