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What Is Mumps?

What Is Mumps?

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus that passes from one person to another through saliva, nasal secretions, and close personal contact.

What is Mumps

The condition primarily affects the parotid glands. Parotid glands — also called salivary glands — are the organs responsible for producing saliva. There are three sets of salivary glands on each side of your face, located behind and below your ears. The hallmark symptom of mumps is swelling of the salivary glands.

What Are the Symptoms of Mumps?

Symptoms of mumps usually appear within two weeks of exposure to the virus. Flu-like symptoms may be the first to appear, including:


Body aches


Loss of appetite

Low-grade fever

Causes of mumps

Mumps is due to an infection by the mumps virus. It can be transmitted by respiratory secretions (e.g. saliva) from a person already affected with the condition. When contracting mumps, the virus travels from the respiratory tract to the salivary glands and reproduces, causing the glands to swell.

Sneezing or coughing

Using the same cutlery and plates as an infected person

Sharing food and drink with someone who is infected


Someone infected touching their nose or mouth and then passing it onto a surface that someone else may touch

How mumps is spread

Mumps is spread in the same way as colds and flu – through infected droplets of saliva that can be inhaled or picked up from surfaces and transferred into the mouth or nose. A person is most contagious a few days before the symptoms develop and for a few days afterwards.

During this time, it’s important to prevent the infection spreading to others, particularly teenagers and young adults who haven’t been vaccinated.

  1. Regularly washing your hands with soap.

  2. Using and disposing of tissues when you sneeze.

  3. Avoiding school or work for at least five days after your symptoms first develop.

What Is the Treatment for Mumps?

Because mumps is a virus, it doesn’t respond to antibiotics or other medications. However, you can treat the symptoms to make yourself more comfortable while you’re sick.

  1. Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, to bring down your fever.

  2. Rest when you feel weak or tired.

  3. Eat a soft diet of soup, yogurt, and other foods that aren’t hard to chew (chewing may be painful when your glands are swollen).

  4. Soothe swollen glands by applying ice packs.

  5. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration due to fever.

  6. Avoid acidic foods and beverages that may cause more pain in your salivary glands.

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