Mumps In Children – Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

5 min read

Written by Pradeep


Children are susceptible to various infections during childhood. Mumps is one such contagious infection which is more prevalent in children between the ages 5-15 years. It is the infection of the salivary glands in the kids. It appears as swelling and soreness below the ears and along the jawline. The swelling may appear either on one or on both sides of the child’s face. It used to be quite common among children before the MMR vaccine was introduced. If you doctor tells you the importance of mumps vaccination, as a mom, especially first timers, you might be wondering how serious this infection is? Read on to know more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment for mumps in children to help you take an informed decision as a mother.
mumps in children

What Is Mumps In Children?

Mumps is an infectious disease caused by a virus that primarily affects the parotid glands of a child. The swelling can be on both sides of the cheeks or just on one side.
The parotid glands are one of three pairs of salivary glands. While the other two salivary glands are situated under the tongue (submandibular gland) and floor of mouth (sub lingual gland), parotid glands are a pair of salivary glands that are present on either side of the mouth in front of both ears along the jawline. The saliva produced in this gland is drained to the mouth through salivary ducts.

What Causes Mumps In Children?

Mumps virus causes mumps in children. It is a contagious disease which can easily spread from one child to another through mouth, nose or throat. The incubation period of the virus is 2-3 weeks. The child stays infected for about a week after the symptoms appear. This infection spreads quickly in schools and daycare centers where children come together. Your child can get infected:

  • If an infected child sneezes or coughs and your child shares the same room with him, your child may breathe in the saliva droplets and get infected
  • Your child can also get mumps by sharing plates, spoon, glass, or cup with someone who is already infected
  • Sharing toys with the infected kids at school or day care centers can also result in catching mumps
  • When an infected child touches his mouth or nose and then touches another surface like a door or a table, he transmits the virus to that surface. When your child touches that surface, he can get infected
What Are The Symptoms Of Mumps In Children?

As we already specified, the signs and symptoms will appear 2 to 3 weeks after the child is exposed to the virus. The intensity of symptoms depends on the severity of the infection. If the infection is mild, the child may not show significant symptoms. Some common symptoms of mumps in children are:

  • The most common symptom of mumps is pain and swelling in one or both the salivary glands. The swelling in front of the ear, under the chin along the jawline, indicates swollen salivary gland
  • Fever (low to moderate)
  • Loss of appetite in your child. He may refuse to eat because of discomfort while chewing or swallowing food and sour taste in the mouth
  • General weakness
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mild tummy ache
  • Dry mouth
  • Stiff neck
  • Joint pain
  • Drowsiness
Diagnosis And Tests For Mumps In Children

Your doctor will diagnose mumps in your child from the symptoms specially the swollen glands. If your doctors feels that your child has mumps, he will order blood, urine or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to confirm the diagnosis.

What Is The Treatment For Mumps In Children?

The virus causes mumps. Hence, antibiotics are ineffective in treating mumps. It will usually leave your child’s system in a week or two. Till then you can take the following measures to alleviate the pain.

  • You can give your child OTC painkillers paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease his discomfort
  • Isolate the child from other family members, especially the siblings
  • Giving your child lots of fluids like warm soup and other soft and less spicy food, which are easy to chew will help him fight overcome the weakness caused by the disease
  • Give him ample bed rest
  • Applying cold compress on swollen gland will help in relieving pain from the swollen glands
  • Never give acidic food or drinks to the child, as it will aggravate the pain in the salivary glands

If your child’s symptoms don’t get better in six to seven days or if you see any signs of complications seek immediate medical attention.

How Long Will It Take For The Child To Recover?

It typically takes around 10 to 12 days for a child to recuperate from mumps. Since both the parotid glands do not swell at the same time, so it takes about a week for the swelling in each salivary gland to go down.

Preventive Measures For Mumps In Children

Mumps can be prevented by getting your child vaccinated with MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella). It is a course of two doses. First one is administered when your child is about 12 to 15 months old. The second booster dose is given just before the child starts to go to school, like around 4 to 6 years.
This vaccination gives 95% protection against contracting mumps in your child. The good news is that even your child is vaccinated and still gets mumps, there will be very mild chances of complications and the child is less likely to spread the disease after he is vaccinated.

Complications Due To Mumps In Children

Complications from mumps are not a common occurrence. However, mumps can be serious if left untreated. Even though mumps mostly affects the parotid glands, it can also cause inflammation in other parts of the body, including the brain, pancreas, and reproductive organs. Some complications that are rare but can occur due to mumps are:

  • Meningitis: Inflammation of brain and spinal cord membranes
  • Pancreatitis: Inflammation of pancreas
  • Encephalitis: inflammation of brain
  • Hearing loss can also happen, as there is a chance of mumps affecting the cochlea, the part of the inner ear that facilitates hearing
When To Seek Immediate Medical Attention?

Taking plenty of rest and above mentioned measures are enough to cure mumps. However, if the child develops any of the following symptoms, immediate medical attention is required.

  • If your child develops high temperature (higher than 103 F ),take your baby to the doctor
  • If the fever lasts more than three days
  • If the child develops seizure
  • If the child develops severe abdominal pain. This can be an indication of pancreatitis
  • If the testicle turns tender and swollen
  • If the child has frequent bouts of vomiting
  • If the child shows signs of dehydration
  • If the child develops a severe headache

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