Mumps is a contagious viral infection that is characterized by swollen glands and a range of other symptoms. Mumps is caused by the mumps virus, which is spread through respiratory secretions, such as saliva, mucus, and feces, from an infected person. Mumps is most commonly found in children, although it can occur in people of all ages. While mumps can be a serious illness, it is highly preventable through vaccination. In this article, we will provide an overview of mumps in children, including its symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention.
The symptoms of mumps typically appear about 14-18 days after exposure to the virus. The most common symptoms of mumps include:
- Swollen glands: Mumps is characterized by swollen glands, most commonly in the jaw and neck. The swollen glands may be accompanied by pain and difficulty swallowing.
- Fever: Mumps is often accompanied by a fever.
- Headache: Children with mumps may experience a headache.
- Other symptoms: Other common symptoms of mumps include muscle aches, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
Mumps is caused by the mumps virus, which is spread through respiratory secretions, such as saliva, mucus, and feces, from an infected person. The virus is spread through close contact with an infected person or through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Children are more prone to mumps because their immune systems are still developing and they are more likely to be in close contact with other children in settings such as schools and daycare centers.
There is no specific treatment for mumps, as the virus must run its course. However, there are some things that can be done to help alleviate the symptoms and prevent complications:
- Bed rest: Children with mumps should get plenty of rest and stay hydrated to help their bodies fight the infection.
- Over-the-counter medications: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can be used to reduce fever and discomfort associated with swollen glands. It is important to follow the dosing instructions on the medication label and not give aspirin to children, as it has been linked to a rare but serious condition called Reye’s syndrome.
- If the child is experiencing severe symptoms or if complications arise, a healthcare provider may recommend additional treatment, such as antibiotics to prevent or treat secondary bacterial infections.
The best way to prevent mumps is through vaccination. The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is highly effective at preventing mumps and is recommended for all children. The vaccine is usually given in two doses, with the first dose being given at 12-15 months of age and the second dose being given at 4-6 years of age. Children who have not been vaccinated or who have only received one dose of the vaccine are at higher risk of contracting mumps.
In addition to vaccination, other measures that can help prevent the spread of mumps include:
- Good hygiene: Children should be taught to cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing and to wash their hands frequently with soap and water.
- Stay home when sick: Children who are sick with mumps should stay home from school or daycare until they are no longer contagious to prevent spreading the virus to others.
- Avoid close contact with infected people: Children who are not sick should avoid close contact with people who are sick with mumps or other respiratory illness.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Mumps. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/index.html