What Is Mumps?
Mumps is a potentially serious viral disease that can cause severe complications in one in every 200 children who may experience inflammation of the brain. Some of its complications include inflammation of the heart, lining of the spinal cord and brain. It can also make males infertile and unable to have children. Pregnant women who contract mumps may miscarry their babies.
Mumps is spread through contact with a person who has the virus, most notably through coughing and sneezing. Having the mumps immunisation provides an adequate level of protection against contracting the virus.
What Are The Mumps Signs And Symptoms?
Mumps signs and symptoms generally present between 12 and 25 days after contracting the virus. The majority of cases tend to improve after about 14 days. It presents most commonly in children aged between 5 and 15 years. Thanks to the mumps vaccine, outbreaks are not that common, but having the vaccine is necessary to sustain herd immunity to the disease.
If you are unsure whether you have had a mumps immunisation you should discuss your options with your doctor.
Mumps primary symptoms and signs include
- Swelling in the face
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Body aches and pain, especially in the joints
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Loss of appetite and/or stomach pains
- Weight loss as a consequence of loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
Interestingly, in about a third of reported cases, no symptoms may present but the person may still be contagious.
In the event that you or a family member present with the symptoms of mumps, or you suspect that you may have the disease, you must inform your doctor. Mumps is a notifiable disease, in the interests of maintaining public health and safety.
Swelling In The Face
The most telltale symptoms of mumps is the swelling of the face, which is caused by inflammation of the parotid glands, the glands that produce saliva. They are located on either side of your face, just below your ears. Even though it is possible for just one gland to swell up, this is quite unusual and generally both glands are affected. These swollen glands can make swallowing difficult, and also cause the person to lose their appetite.
When To Seek Urgent Medical Care?
In addition to having swollen glands, if you or a family member present with any of the symptoms blow you should seek urgent medical treatment and contact your general practitioner:
- Swollen testes in males
- Presentation of severe headache
- A rash of red or purple bruises or spots presents
- Vomiting or an aversion to bright light
In the event that you do not notice any improvement within two weeks, or the condition deteriorates, you should consult your general practitioner urgently. Even though it affects children more commonly, it is most severe in people who contract it after they have gone through puberty. Having the mumps immunisation can safeguard you and your family.
What Treatment Is Recommended For Mumps?
Treatment is generally symptomatic and most patients get better with rest. In addition, the following remedies may provide relief: Pain medication such as ibuprofen or aspirin Drinking lots of fluids but avoiding particularly acidic beverages as this may aggravate your swollen glands Using cold compresses to reduce the swelling of your glands.
How Does The Mumps Vaccine Work?
The mumps vaccine is an effective way to avoid contracting the virus. While it is not guaranteed to be effective at preventing the virus, it can protect your family. The mumps vaccine is usually administered at the same time as the measles and rubella vaccine (MMR vaccine). The first dose of the MMR vaccine is given at 12 months and a follow up dose is administered at 18 months. The second dose is an MMRV vaccine which includes the vaccine for the chicken pox. While it is not 100% effective it does prevent 9 out of every ten cases. The mumps vaccine is administered by injection and it is free for children between the ages of 12 and 18 months. It is also free for anyone under the age of 20.
What Side Effects Can Be Expected From The Vaccine?
The vaccine is considered safe and side effects are minimal and mild. These may include
- General feelings of being unwell
The side effects of the vaccine are nominal compared to the potential complications of the mumps virus. Complications generally include inflammation in other parts of the body such as
- The breasts
- The testes
- The ovaries
- The brain
- The heart
- The lining of the brain, the heart and the spinal cord
- The pancreas
- The liver
- The thyroid
- Mumps can also cause deafness in both ears.
Because there is no treatment for the virus, the mumps immunisation is the most responsible way to protect yourself, your family and your wider community. Thanks to the high availability of the mumps vaccine, it is a relatively uncommon virus in the developed world. This shouldn’t be considered an excuse not to have the vaccine however.
For more information about mumps signs and symptoms please contact us: (02) 9884 9300