What is mumps?
Mumps is a highly contagious Infectious disease, caused by the mumps virus, which affects the salivary glands or the parotid glands of a patient.
You can get infected with mumps via droplets of saliva from the mouth, mucus from the nose, or throat of an infected patient, generally when the person sneezes, coughs, or talks.
The most noticeable feature of this virus infection is that the infected patient develops a painful swollen ‘hamster-like face’, or ‘chipmunk cheeks’.
This is a well-known symptom; however, it is also the last one to present itself, after a headache, high fever and general flu-like symptoms.
If you suspect that you have been exposed to the mumps virus or to infected person contact your doctor immediately.
It is also recommended to let your doctor know in advance that you are there for a consultation for suspected mumps virus infection so that the doctor can take adequate precautions against the spread of infection.
Please note, getting a vaccine after already exposed to the virus will not prevent the disease from occurring.
However, if you did not get infected even after the particular virus exposure, a vaccine can protect you against future infections of the mumps virus.
How does mumps infection occur?
As mentioned above, the mumps virus travels in the air via droplets of saliva and mucus when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks.
It can land on various surfaces, like door handles, and cutlery and linger on for some time. When an uninfected or healthy person touches these surfaces and then rubs his mouth or nose, he can get infected.
The incubation period of the mumps virus is about 7 to 18 days, and on an average is around 10 days after the exposure.
An infected person experiences the symptoms around 2 to 3 weeks after the exposure. However, not all people experience the symptoms of infectious mumps disease. One out of three people suffering from mumps infection does not experience any symptoms at all.
Mumps is a very common infection among kids. This Infectious disease can treat by vaccination.
There is a limitation for vaccination; many people are not eligible for vaccination such as:
- People who have a compromised immune system,
- Those who are allergic to ingredients in the vaccine
- Pregnant women
After suffering from mumps once, a person develops immunity to this disease for lifelong. There are, however, rare cases of mumps occurring a second time in life for some individuals.
What are the symptoms of a mumps infection?
The symptoms of mumps generally appear between 12 to 25 days after a person has been exposed to the mumps virus.
The symptoms can include:
- Painful, swollen and puffy cheeks
- Flu-like symptoms including coughing, sneezing, and high fever (103F)
- Muscle Pain and body pain
- Pain in the throat when swallowing or drinking
- Abdominal pain in adolescent women due to swollen ovaries
- Pain in testicles in adolescent boys
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
Diagnosis of mumps infection
A doctor can diagnose mumps from the symptoms only, typically from the swollen cheeks.
The doctor can ask you to undergo blood, saliva, or urine test to confirm that you suffer from mumps. In the most severe cases, the doctor can take a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid for the testing.
Complications of mumps infection
Several complications can develop with mumps infection, but as the infection passes away they fade up.
The complications can include:
- Swollen and painful testicles in Men (known as Orchitis)
- Swelling of ovaries in girls that can be painful
- Mumps during pregnancy can result in miscarriage
- Meningitis which is swelling of the membranes around the spinal cord and brain
- Encephalitis which is an inflammation of the brain which is responsible for seizures, severe headaches, and loss of consciousness
- Pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas results in abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
- Damage to the cochlea in the inner ear results into loss of hearing
Who is at high risk to mumps infection?
People who work in high-risk environments like hospitals and schools are highly susceptible to the mumps virus and should be vaccinated against mumps.
Kids below the age of 6 years, as well as adults, who have not received the vaccination yet, are at high risk of contracting mumps virus.
Individuals who have a compromised immune system are at high risk of contracting mumps which can also result in serious complications.
What is the treatment for mumps?
As we all know, mumps is a virus, it doesn’t respond to or treated with antibiotics or other medications. However, Doctor can treat related symptoms such as pain and fever.
- Rest when feeling weak or tired.
- Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, to relieve from fever.
- Soothe swollen glands by using ice packs.
- Drink a good amount of fluids to avoid dehydration due to fever.
- Eat a soft diet such as soup, yoghurt, and other foods that aren’t hard to chew because chewing can be painful when glands are swollen
- Strictly avoid acidic foods and beverages that may cause more pain in the salivary glands.
A patient can generally return to work or school about 1 week or 10 days after a doctor diagnoses your mumps if a patient feels up to it. By this point, the patient is no longer contagious.
Most people who get mumps can’t contract the infection a second time in life as the virus once protects you against becoming infected again.
How to prevent mumps infection? (Vaccination)
Vaccination can prevent the mumps infection. Most of the infants and children receive a vaccine for infections such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) at the same time.
The first MMR shot is typically given between the ages of 12 and 15 months at a routine well-child visit and second vaccination is necessary for school-aged kids between 4 and 6 years old.
With 2 doses, this vaccine is approximately 88% effective. The rate of effectiveness of just one dose is nearly 78 per cent.
People who were born before 1957 and haven’t yet contracted mumps virus can wish to be vaccinated. People who work in a high-risk environment, like hospital or school, should always be vaccinated against mumps or such virus.
However, individuals with compromised immune systems, and are allergic to gelatin or neomycin or are pregnant, shouldn’t receive the MMR vaccine. Please contact your doctor in such cases.
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