Mumps is a contagious disease that leads to painful swelling of the salivary glands. The salivary glands produce saliva, a liquid that moistens food and helps you chew and swallow.
Mumps is caused by a virus. The virus spreads from person to person by drops of moisture from the nose and mouth, such as through sneezing. It is also spread through direct contact with items that have infected saliva on them.
Mumps most often occurs in children ages 2 through 12 who have not been vaccinated against the disease. However, the infection can occur at any age and may also be seen in college age students.
The time between being exposed to the virus and getting sick (incubation period) is about 12 to 25 days.
Mumps may also infect the:
Symptoms of mumps may include:
Other symptoms that can occur in males are:
The health care provider will perform an exam and ask about the symptoms, especially when they started.
No tests are needed in most cases. The provider can usually diagnose mumps by looking at the symptoms.
Blood tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
There is no specific treatment for mumps. The following things can be done to relieve symptoms:
People with this disease do well most of the time, even if organs are involved. After the illness is over in about 7 days, they'll be immune to mumps for the rest of their life.
Infection of other organs may occur, including testicle swelling (orchitis).
Call your provider if you or your child has mumps along with:
Call the local emergency number (such as 911) or visit the emergency room if seizures occur.
MMR immunization (vaccine) protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. It should be given to children at these ages:
Adults can also receive the vaccine. Talk to your provider about this.
Recent outbreaks of the mumps have supported the importance of having all children vaccinated.
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.