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Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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 V | W | X | Y | Z |


Viral Illnesses

  • Chickenpox

  • Gastroenteritis

  • Shingles

  • Meningitis

  • Mumps

  • Pneumonia

  • Encephalitis

  • Measles

  • Rubella

  • Mononucleosis

  • Cold sore

  • Common warts

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

  • Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis B

  • Hepatitis C

  • Respiratory syncytial virus

  • Smallpox

  • Parvovirus infection

  • West Nile virus

  • Roseola

  • Rabies

  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

  • Plantar warts

  • Mumps is a viral infection primarily of your parotid glands - one of three pairs of salivary glands. Your parotid glands, which secrete saliva, are located below and in front of your ears. In about two-thirds of mumps cases, both parotid glands are affected. The disease spreads when someone with mumps sneezes, coughs or talks, and you inhale the infected droplets.

    Signs and symptoms

    About one-third of people infected with the mumps virus have no signs or symptoms. When signs and symptoms do develop, they usually appear about two to three weeks after exposure to the virus and may include:

    • Swollen, painful salivary glands on one or both sides of the face

    • Pain with chewing or swallowing

    • Fever

    • Weakness and fatigue

    • Tenderness and swelling of a testicle (orchitis)

  • Fatigue

  • The primary — and best known — sign of mumps is swollen salivary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out. In fact, the term mumps is an old expression for lumps or bumps within the cheeks.


    The cause of mumps is the mumps virus, which spreads easily from person to person through infected saliva. If you're not immune, you can contract mumps by breathing in saliva droplets of an infected person who has just sneezed or coughed. You can also contract mumps from sharing utensils or cups with someone who has mumps.

    When to seek medical advice

    If you suspect that you or your child has mumps, see your doctor. Mumps has become an uncommon illness, so it's possible that your symptoms are caused by another more common condition. Swollen glands and a fever could be an indication of inflamed tonsils (tonsillitis) or a blocked salivary gland. Other, rarer viruses can infect the parotid glands, causing a mumps-like illness.

    Screening and diagnosis

    If your doctor suspects that you or your child has mumps, a virus culture or serologic blood test may be needed. This blood test can detect mumps antibodies, which indicate whether you have had a recent or past infection.


    Complications of mumps are potentially serious, but rare. These include:

    • Orchitis. This inflammatory condition causes swelling of one or both testicles. Orchitis is painful, but it rarely leads to sterility — the inability to conceive a child.

    • Pancreatitis. This disease causes swelling of the pancreas. Signs and symptoms of pancreatitis include pain in the upper abdomen, nausea and vomiting.

    • Encephalitis. Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain caused by a viral infection, such as mumps. Encephalitis can lead to neurologic problems and become life-threatening. Although it's serious, encephalitis is a rare complication of mumps.

    • Meningitis. Meningitis is infection and inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord. It can occur if the mumps virus spreads through your bloodstream to infect your central nervous system. Like encephalitis, meningitis is a rare complication of mumps.

    • Inflammation of the ovaries. Pain in the lower abdomen in women may be a symptom of this problem. Fertility doesn't seem to be affected.

    • Hearing loss. In rare cases, mumps can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss in one or both ears.

  • vomiting

  • If you or your child develops a complication from mumps, contact your doctor.


    Because mumps is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not an effective treatment.

    Like most viral illnesses, mumps infection must simply run its course. Fortunately, most children and adults recover from an uncomplicated case of mumps within two weeks' time.


    In general, you're considered immune to mumps if you've previously had the infection or if you've been immunized against mumps.

    The mumps vaccine is usually given as a combined measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) inoculation, which contains the safest and most effective form of each vaccine. Doctors recommend that children receive the MMR vaccine between 12 and 15 months of age, and again between 3 and 6 years of age — before entering school.

    Do you need the MMR vaccine?
    You don't need a vaccine if you:

    • Had two doses of the MMR vaccine after 12 months of age or one dose of the MMR vaccine plus a second dose of measles vaccine

    • Have blood tests that prove you're immune to measles, mumps and rubella

    • Are a man who was born before 1957

    • Are a woman who was born before 1957 and you don't plan to have any more children, you already had the rubella vaccine or you have a positive rubella test

    You should get a vaccine if you don't fit the criteria listed above and you:

    • Are a no pregnant woman of childbearing age

    • Attend college, trade school or postsecondary school

    • Work in a hospital, medical facility, child-care center or school

    • Plan to travel overseas or take a cruise

    The vaccine is not recommended for:

    • Pregnant women or women who plan to get pregnant within the next four weeks

    • People who have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin

    If you have cancer, a blood disorder or another disease that affects your immune system, talk to your doctor before getting an MMR vaccine.

    Side effects of the vaccine
    You can't get mumps from the MMR vaccine, and most people experience no side effects from the vaccine. About 10 percent of people develop a fever between five and 12 days after the vaccination, and about 5 percent of people develop a mild rash. Less than one out of a million doses causes a serious allergic reaction.

    In recent years, some news reports have raised concerns about a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. However, extensive reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conclude that there's no scientifically proven link between the MMR vaccine and autism. In addition, there's no scientific benefit to separating the vaccines. These organizations note that autism is often identified in toddlers between the ages of 18 and 30 months, which happens to be about the time children are given their first MMR vaccine. But this coincidence in timing shouldn't be mistaken for a cause-and-effect relationship.


    If you or your child has mumps, time and rest are the best treatments. There's little your doctor can do to speed recovery. But you can take some steps to ease pain and discomfort and keep others from becoming infected:

    • Rest in bed until the fever goes away.

    • Isolate yourself or your child to prevent spreading the disease to others.

    • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) to ease symptoms. Adults may also use aspirin. Don't give aspirin to children because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease.

    • Use a cold compress to ease the pain of swollen glands.

    • Wear an athletic supporter to ease the pain of tender testicles.

    • Avoid foods that require lots of chewing. Instead, try broth-based soups or soft foods, such as mashed potatoes or cooked oatmeal, for nourishment.

    • Avoid sour foods such as citrus fruits or juices that stimulate saliva production.

    • Drink plenty of fluids.

    • Plan low-key activities.

    If your child has mumps, the most important thing you can do as a parent is to watch for complications. In boys, watch especially for high fever, with pain and swelling of the testicles. In girls, abdominal pain may mean involvement of the ovaries or pancreatitis. If your child's fever is very high, contact your doctor for advice.

  • Abdominal pain

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    This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
    In no event will The Integrated Medical Clinic be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

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