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Swollen Parotid Gland  
Swollen Parotid Gland

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Definition  

Mumps is a viral infection. The infection causes fever and swelling of the parotid glands. These glands are located on the side of the face, near the ear. Because of the mumps vaccine , this condition is not as common as it once was in the United States.

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Causes  

The virus is usually spread through contact with an infected person's saliva. The mumps virus spreads easily among people in close contact.

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Risk Factors  

These factors increase your chance of developing mumps:

  • Being unvaccinated and exposed to people who have mumps
  • Being born after 1956 and never having mumps, or not being vaccinated after first birthday
  • Age: 10-19 years
  • Season: winter
  • Having a weakened immune system, even if you have been vaccinated
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Symptoms  

About one-third of cases do not have symptoms. Symptoms often occur 2-3 weeks after exposure to the virus.

Mumps may cause:

  • Painful swelling of the parotid glands
  • Fever
  • Discomfort
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness

Other areas may also be affected, such as:

  • Swelling and pain under the tongue, jaw, or front of the chest
  • In males: painful inflammation of the testicles
  • In females: inflammation of the ovaries, which results in pain or tenderness in the abdomen
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Diagnosis  

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will diagnose the mumps based on these findings.

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Treatment  

There is no specific treatment for mumps. Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics.

In general, mumps will last about 10-12 days. Try these comfort measures:

  • Apply hot or cold compresses to swollen areas.
  • Gargle with warm salt water to soothe a sore throat.
  • Treat high fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
  • Drink plenty of liquids. Avoid tart or acidic drinks such as, orange juice or lemonade
  • Eat a soft, bland diet.

Note: Do not give aspirin to children or teens with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving a child aspirin.

Complications  

In most healthy children, complications are rare. When complications do occur, they include:

  • Deafness , which may not be permanent
  • Swelling or infection of the brain, pancreas, heart, or other organs
  • Testicular inflammation
  • Problems with male fertility
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Prevention  

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent mumps. The vaccine contains live viruses that can no longer cause disease. The mumps vaccine is usually given in combination with:

The regular schedule for giving the vaccine is at age 12-15 months and again at age 4-6 years.

Ask your doctor if the vaccine is right for you. In general, avoid the vaccine if you:

  • Have had severe allergic reactions to vaccines or vaccine components
  • Are pregnant—Avoid pregnancy for 1-3 months after receiving the vaccine.
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Have a high fever or severe upper respiratory tract infection

If you are not vaccinated, avoid contact with someone who has mumps. Discuss the benefits of vaccination with your doctor.