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Mumps – causes, side effects and treatments at

Thursday, May 17, 2018 by

Mumps is a viral infection that is transmitted among humans. Also called epidemic parotitis, the infection only affects humans.

When a patient is infected with the mumps, their salivary glands, most especially the parotid gland at the sides of the cheeks, visibly swell. Other body organs can also show signs of the virus infection.

The virus usually spreads directly from one person to another via respiratory droplets, like those expelled when coughing or sneezing. In other cases, the respiratory droplets may land on fomites ( or articles that may carry infection like clothing or sheets) and then be transmitted through hand-to-mouth contact after touching these items.

Animals cannot contract or spread mumps disease.

Known side effects of mumps

The side effects of mumps often appear at least after two weeks following an infection. Aside from side effects similar to those associated with the flu, the symptoms linked to mumps may include:

  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever

After these side effects, a patient with mumps may have a high fever of 103 degrees F (or 39 degrees C). Their salivary glands may also swell after the next few days, although the glands don’t all swell immediately.

People who contract mumps usually show symptoms of the disease. But in some cases, others don’t experience or only have several symptoms.

Risk factors for mumps may include:

  1. Age — Children aged two to 12 years old are at high risk of contracting mumps.
  2. Birthdate — Specifically, being born before 1956. While people born during this period are believed to have had mumps in their childhood, not being exposed to the disease in the past makes them at risk for adult mumps disease. Adult mumps is linked to a more severe disease and a higher rate of certain side effects, like orchitis or inflammation of the testicles.
  3. Season — Outbreaks of mumps usually occur during winter and spring.
  4. Travel to high-risk areas in the world — These areas include Africa, the general Indian subcontinent region, and Southeast Asia.
  5. Weakening immune system — This can be either due to diseases (like AIDS, cancer, or HIV) or medication (like oral steroid use for longer than two weeks or chemotherapy).

Body systems harmed by mumps

Mumps may cause complications like deafness, encephalitis, meningitis, and orchitis. Keep in mind that these complications may occur even if the patient doesn’t experience side effects that involve the parotid gland.

  • Deafness — Mumps may cause permanent nerve damage that results in deafness. Although deafness is rarely bilateral, in most cases only one ear is affected.
  • Encephalitis — Encephalitis refers to the infection of the brain. Before the 1960s, mumps was the major cause of confirmed viral encephalitis in the U.S. Now, the majority of patients completely recuperate without permanent health side effects.
  • Meningitis — Meningitis is the infection of the spinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Over 50 percent of patients with mumps will have meningitis, and it can occur during any period of the disease. Most patients recover completely without permanent medical side effects.
  • Orchitis — Orchitis is the infection of the testicle/testicles. This complication commonly occurs among postpubertal males infected with mumps. In some cases, orchitis causes the affected testicles to atrophy or shrink while some patients may become infertile after developing orchitis.

Mumps can also cause complications involving the ovaries among some postpubertal women.

Other rare health complications of mumps infection includes:

  • Arthritis
  • Infection of the myocardium/heart muscle
  • Infection of the pancreas
  • Neurological conditions (e.g. facial palsy, Guillain-Barré syndrome, etc.)

Food items or nutrients that may prevent mumps

The following foods or nutrients can help prevent mumps and ease its side effects:

  • Cantaloupes and mangoes — Both cantaloupes and mangoes are chock-full of vitamin C that can help the body fight off infections faster. Both fruits contain flavonoids, like beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, that can boost the immune system and vitamin A.
  • Carrot juice mixed with grape and pineapple juice — This mixed fruit and vegetable juice is good for patients with mumps since it doesn’t require them to chew, which may cause pain in the jaw. Both carrot and pineapple juice have antioxidant properties that can strengthen the immune system. Grapes have antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help prevent the growth of bacteria or virus.
  • Homemade mashed potatoes with pepper — Potatoes are full of carbohydrates and proteins while pepper has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Runny oatmeal — Oatmeal is easy to eat and it is full of proteins. It also contains soluble fibers that can help slow the process of digestion that can make a patient feel full.

Treatments, management plans for mumps

There is no cure for mumps since it is a virus that doesn’t respond to antibiotics or other medications. However, the illness often resolves spontaneously after seven to 10 days.

The side effects of the disease can be treated to ensure the comfort of the patient. Treatment for the side effects of mumps often includes rest and rehydration.

Individuals who have contracted mumps can’t develop the disease again since having the virus once protects you from becoming re-infected.

Where to learn more


Mumps is a viral infection transmitted among humans. Also called epidemic parotitis, the infection only affects humans.

The symptoms linked to mumps may include body aches, fatigue, and headaches.

Mumps may cause complications like deafness, encephalitis, meningitis, and orchitis.

Cantaloupes and mangoes, carrot juice mixed with grape and pineapple juice, homemade mashed potatoes with pepper, and runny oatmeal can help prevent mumps and ease its side effects.

There is no cure for mumps since it is a virus that doesn’t respond to antibiotics or other medications.

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