Mumps: what is it? How is it contracted? Should we vaccinate?

Mumps or mumps is a contagious disease that can be acute or chronic and that affects one or both parotid glands, responsible for producing saliva. They are located behind the ascending branches of the jaw.

This disease is caused by a virus of the genus Paramyxoviridae Y It is usually frequent in children and adolescents, although it can also cause infections in sensitive adults.

The mumps They can also affect other body glands, to the nervous system and to the testicles.

Before the introduction of universal vaccination, mumps was an endemic disease throughout the world. It affected the majority of children between 2 and 15 years of age.

Since the introduction of the vaccine, the incidence has sharply decreased with only occasional outbreaks of the disease in Latin America. Generally, mumps is transmitted between about two days before the parotid swells and up to 7 or 9 days later.

Being a respiratory virus, the transmission happens through droplets that are released when sneezing, cough or talk.

What are your symptoms?

Some people infected with the mumps virus have no signs or symptoms, or they are very mild. When the signs and symptoms do appear, generally, they appear about two or three weeks after exposure to the virus.

The main symptom of mumps in the inflammation of the salivary glands that makes the cheeks swell. In addition to this characteristic inflammation, patients may also have:

  • Pain in the salivary glands inflamed on one or both sides of the face.
  • Pain when chewing or swallowing
  • Fever.
  • Headache and muscle.
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite.


As usual, Complications of mumps are rare. Some of them are:

  • Hearing loss.
  • Miscarriages in pregnant women
  • Abnormalities in the heartbeat.

Although they are not very frequent, they can be potentially serious. Most involve inflammation of some part of the body.

Apart from the salivary glands, About a third of men with mumps also develop inflammation of one of the testicles or both This complication is known as orchitis. This complication could cause sterility, although it is usually rare.

Read also: 5 recommendations to take care of the flu in children

Another complication that may appear due to mumps infection is the inflammation of the ovaries, in the case of girls, although it is usually less frequent.

On the other hand, on rare occasions, the central nervous system can also suffer an inflammation and lead to meningitis or encephalitis, if the brain is damaged.

Prevention of mumps

The best way to prevent mumps is undoubtedly the MMR vaccine. This vaccine combines doses to prevent measles, mumps and rubella. It is a protection both individual and collective.

The MMR vaccine is included in the childhood immunization schedule. Two doses are administered, one at 12 months and another at 3 years. In this point, It should be remembered that vaccines do not protect 100%, hence some isolated cases may occur.

In this case, mention that in 2019 there has been an outbreak of mumps because, although the protection of the vaccine has an efficacy above 95%, there was a problem with certain doses of the triple viral.

Those vaccinated during the years 1995 to 1998 and between 1985 and 1988, They have significantly less protection.

How can mumps be treated?

Being a viral infection, the treatment is focused on reducing the symptoms, that is why it is said that the treatment is symptomatic. It is based on the administration of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), in addition to rest.

Antibiotics should not be administered, as they are only effective against bacterial, non-viral infections. Once an outbreak appears, It is advisable to review case by case to revaccinate if there were doubts.

Maybe you're also interested in reading: Antibiotics: why can not you abuse them?

On the other hand, mention that diet is another important factor to consider. It will depend on the conditions of the infected person to be able to feed, which is usually reduced to soft foods. However, If the intake is possible, it will not be necessary to limit the feeding.