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What is it?
Mumps is an infectious viral illness, characterized by swelling of the salivary glands. Mumps mostly affects children and young adults.
Symptoms: Mumps has an incubation period of between 12 and 21 days before symptoms appear. There may be fever, headache and sore throat. The salivary gland, under the ear, on one or both sides swells: swelling may appear at the same time or one side may follow the other. The gland may be painful. The pain is worse when chewing and it hurts to swallow. The swelling lasts up to ten days. In males, after puberty, inflammation of the testes (orchitis) may develop. Only one testis is normally affected, become swollen, tender and painful for two to four days. In rare cases mumps orchitis affects both testes. Severe inflammation may cause infertility.
In girls, inflammation of the ovaries may cause abdominal pain. Mumps is infectious from three days before the glands swell, until seven days after the swelling has subsided.
Possible complications: Rarely, infertility in males
Treatment in the home: Keep the child at home. In moderate to severe cases, bed rest may be advisable during the first few days of the illness. Give paracetamol in recommended doses to relieve pain and fever. Give plenty to drink.
When to consult a doctor: If the salivary glands and/or testes are very painful. If there is persistent fever, earache or abdominal pain.
What the doctor may do: Prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug to reduce severe pain and swelling. Prescribe an antibiotic if there is an associated bacterial infection.