Mumps is caused by infection with the mumps virus.
Usually, babies and early primary school kids are infected by the virus. It is said that symptoms are much lighter if you have mumps during this period, but this is not true. There are risks that young children have some complications. (sequelae)
Mumps are officially called infection of salivary glands and it is highly infectious.
Signs and symptoms appear about 18 days after exposure to the virus. (incubation period is about 18 days after the exposure to the virus)
The route of infection are droplet infection and contact infection. Droplet infection is a virus which spread from the infected person to others through the air by coughs, sneezes and oral communication. Virus infects the person through the mouth and nose. Contact infection is the infection you catch orally and via the nose by kissing, shaking hands or touching the doorknob of someone who has the mumps.
Main symptoms of mumps are fever and cheek swelling.
The common symptom of mumps is fever and swelling in one or both of salivary glands. (cheeks or under the chin). Once infected by the virus, it develops in the mucus of the nose and throat, as well as in the lymphatic system of the neck. After this, it spreads all over the body via the blood vessels.
The part which is easily infected by the mumps virus are salivary glands. These glands try to fight against virus and an inflammation occurs via the immunity system. As a result, those glands around the face swell. It hurts, and you can have fever. Other symptoms like a cold occur as well: headache, weakness and fatigue, loss of appetite, etc.
Dangerous complications of mumps
There are risks of subsequent complications when you contract mumps.
Those complications occur because mumps virus infects not only salivary glands but also the meninges, the inner ear, testicles, ovaries and pancreas.
Viral meningitis is one of the principle complications. Mumps virus attacks the outer layer of the brain (the meninges) and causes high fever and vomiting and headaches. These usually pass within 1 or 2 weeks.
Encephalitis is when mumps virus infects the brain itself causing serious symptoms like high fever, headache, spasm, impaired consciousness. Rarely, different secondary diseases do occur after its recovery.
Sensorineural hearing loss (hearing problem)
Hearing loss due to mumps. Mumps virus infects the cochlea beyond the blood flow and the ear tympanum, the inner ear. According to Japanese pediatric studies, it's estimated this occurs in around 1 per 1000 cases of mumps.
Swollen testicles (orchitis)
Swelling of the testicles can affect males who get mumps after puberty. It is rare that it causes infertility. However, some shrinkage of their testicles can cause a drop in their sperm count.
Swollen ovaries (oophoritis)
Swelling of the ovaries can affect females who get mumps after puberty.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. The most common symptom is sudden pain in the center of your belly. Feeling sick or vomiting, the softness of the belly are some of the symptoms.
Treatment and prevention of mumps
As there is no efficient treatment at this moment, prevention treatment is usual. Even though antipyretic analgesic or painkiller drugs are used to ease off the pain. In medical institutions, intravenous drip fluid is given to avoid dehydration.
Opening the mouth and mastication hurt, food or drink which can be swallowed easily are recommended. We suggest not to eat sour and acid food which stimulate saliva excretion. It is also recommended to hydrate yourself as often as you can, in order not to become dehydrated.