Understanding Mumps: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Hey there! Have you ever heard of mumps and wondered what they are? In this article, we're going to explore the ins and outs of mumps so that you can better understand this contagious disease. Buckle up, because we're diving deep into the world of mumps, where we'll break down everything you need to know about symptoms, causes, and effective treatment strategies.


Mumps might sound like the name of a cartoon character, but it's actually a contagious viral infection that affects the glands on both sides of the face. Having a solid understanding of mumps is important in order to recognize its symptoms and prevent the spread of this pesky virus.

So, let's get started with our comprehensive guide to understanding mumps and stay ahead of the game!

Understanding Mumps

What is Mumps?

Mumps is an illness caused by a certain type of virus called paramyxovirus. This virus primarily affects the salivary glands, which are responsible for producing saliva. These glands are located near your ears and are also known as parotid glands.

Even though the virus mostly targets the salivary glands, it can also cause inflammation in other parts of the body, such as the testicles, ovaries, breast tissue, and pancreas.

How is Mumps Transmitted?

Mumps can be pretty contagious, so it's important to know how it spreads. The virus transmits through direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person.

These droplets can be released into the air when a person with mumps coughs, sneezes, or talks. Sharing utensils, drinks, or even just being in close contact with someone who has mumps can lead to its transmission.

Symptoms of Mumps

Now that we know what mumps is and how it spreads, let's talk about the symptoms that come with it. You might not experience any symptoms at all, or you could have symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

The average incubation period for mumps is between 16 and 18 days, which means you may not experience any symptoms until a couple of weeks after being exposed to the virus. Some common symptoms of mumps include:

  1. Fever
  2. Headache
  3. Swelling and pain in the salivary glands
  4. Muscle aches
  5. Fatigue
  6. Loss of appetite

It's essential to know that not everyone with mumps will have visible swelling of the salivary glands. In fact, some people show mild signs or have no symptoms at all. If you believe you may have been exposed to the mumps virus, it's crucial to reach out to a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.

Diagnosis and Causes

How are Mumps Diagnosed?

If you're experiencing any of the symptoms we just discussed, you should reach out to a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis. During your visit, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical examination may be carried out to check for the telltale signs of mumps, like swollen and tender salivary glands.

In some cases, a healthcare professional may also recommend specific tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests might include a saliva or blood sample, which will be checked for signs of the mumps virus.

What Causes Mumps?

As we mentioned earlier, mumps is caused by a type of virus called paramyxovirus. It spreads quickly and easily between people through saliva, respiratory droplets, and close personal contact.

Getting vaccinated is one of the most effective ways to prevent mumps, as the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine helps protect you against the mumps virus.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment Options for Mumps

Since mumps is a viral infection, there isn't a specific medication to treat it. Antibiotics do not work for mumps as they only target bacterial infections. Most of the time, treatment for mumps focuses on relieving symptoms and helping you feel better while your body fights off the virus.

Some treatment options that can help alleviate mump's symptoms include:

  1. Taking over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help reduce fever and pain.
  2. Applying ice or warm packs to swollen glands to alleviate discomfort.
  3. Drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  4. Resting as much as possible to help your body recover more quickly.

Make sure you follow your healthcare professional's guidance for treating mumps and don't hesitate to ask questions if you're unsure about anything.

Preventing the Spread of Mumps

Stopping mumps from spreading is essential, especially since it's a contagious disease. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent the spread of mumps:

  1. Get vaccinated with the MMR vaccine. This is the most effective way to prevent mumps and protect yourself from the virus.
  2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
  3. Avoid close contact with anyone suspected or confirmed to have mumps.
  4. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and dispose of tissues properly.
  5. Do not share utensils, cups, or personal items like toothbrushes with others to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Dealing with Mumps-related Complications

Even though mumps is relatively mild in many cases, it can sometimes lead to complications. It's essential to be aware of these potential complications and know when to seek medical help in case of persistent or worsening symptoms. Some mumps-related complications include:

  1. Orchitis: Inflammation of the testicles, which can sometimes result in pain, swelling, and rarely, reduced fertility.
  2. Oophoritis: Inflammation of the ovaries can cause abdominal pain, fever, and nausea in females.
  3. Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas, which can lead to abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. This usually resolves on its own but could be severe in some cases.
  4. Encephalitis: Inflammation of the brain can occur, which is rare but can lead to more serious symptoms, such as seizures, unconsciousness, and neurological problems.
  5. Meningitis: Inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord may result in severe headache, stiff neck, and high fever.

If you experience any of these complications, it's crucial to seek medical help immediately. Timely intervention is key to a successful recovery and preventing any long-term consequences.

Recovering from Mumps

Most people with mumps start feeling better within a week or two, although complete recovery may take a little longer for some individuals. During your recovery process, be sure to prioritize self-care and follow your healthcare professional's guidance. Here are some tips for a smooth recovery:

  1. Ease back into your daily routine gradually, as you may still feel tired or weak.
  2. Maintain proper hygiene, particularly handwashing, to prevent the spread of the mumps virus to others.
  3. Stay well-hydrated, and ensure you consume a balanced diet to help your body recover faster.
  4. Keep in touch with your healthcare professional and provide updates on your progress. This helps them monitor your recovery and address any concerns that may arise.

Mumps in the Modern Era: The Importance of Vaccination

One of the best ways to prevent mumps is through vaccination. In many countries, mumps is now a relatively uncommon illness, thanks to widespread immunization with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. This vaccine is typically administered to infants, with a booster given later in childhood. The MMR vaccine has significantly reduced the incidence of mumps and associated complications.

It's important to remember that vaccination not only protects yourself, but also contributes to the overall health of the community. Vaccines help reduce the likelihood of outbreaks and protect those who might not be able to get vaccinated due to various reasons, such as age or pre-existing medical conditions.

Be Prepared: Mumps Safety for College and University Students

Young adults, particularly those in a college or university setting, should be aware of the potential risks associated with mumps. In these close-knit environments, infectious diseases can easily spread. As a student, here's what you can do to protect yourself and others against mumps:

  1. Make sure you've received the appropriate MMR vaccinations. In some cases, a booster shot might be recommended for added protection.
  2. Practice good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing and proper cough etiquette.
  3. Be aware of any mumps outbreaks or notices on campus and take necessary precautions, such as avoiding large gatherings or practicing social distancing.
  4. Inform your healthcare provider if you believe you've been exposed to the mumps virus or if you're experiencing symptoms.


Now that we've covered everything from symptoms to treatments and prevention strategies, you should have a better understanding of mumps. Remember, the key to staying informed and healthy is to recognize the signs of mumps and take appropriate steps to prevent its spread.

If you suspect you may have mumps or have been in contact with someone who has, don't hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional to get the help and guidance you need. Stay healthy and stay informed!