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Mumps is caused by a virus (i.e., it is a viral disease). It affects the glands which make saliva, primarily the parotid glands which are situated just below and in front of the ears, covering the angles of the jaw. It is not very infectious and is uncommon in children under five. It is exceedingly rare to catch the disease twice as one attach usually gives life-long immunity. The time between coming in contract with the disease and developing symptoms – the incubation period - is approximately three weeks.


The main symptom is that of enlarged and tender parotid glands. One side is usually affected first, but in most cases the other side then also becomes involved, after an interval of up to five days. There is frequently a mild fever and a general feeling of tiredness. As the parotid glands are involved in the production of saliva, the child may complain of a dry mouth. The condition will usually resolve itself within six to ten days.


There is no specific treatment against mumps other than the relief of the symptoms. For pain relief, local heat using a warm compress or hot water bottle applied to the affected glands can be soothing. Appropriate analgesics such as aspirin or Disprin may be required. A child may have some difficulty in moving its jay and therefore the diet should consist of soft nutritious foods and a adequate fluids. If the mouth is dry, special care should be taken to keep the tongue and mouth moist and clean by using appropriate gargles and mouth washes.

To avoid unnecessary spread of the disease, the child should have his own eating utensils, toothmug, etc. Isolation from school for one week after the glands have returned to normal is recommended.

  • If the pain is very severe and not adequately controlled with ‘household remedies’.
  • If the child is complaining of headaches or earache (this will usually be due to the inflammation of the parotid glands, but may be also caused by an associated ear infection).
  • If there is evidence of abdominal pain or discomfort of the testicles.
  • If the child appears particularly unwell.
  • If there is any doubt about the diagnosis.
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