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Mumps in Adults


Mumps is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the parotid glands. Parotid glands help to make saliva. They are located in front of and below each ear. The mumps virus is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is also spread through direct contact with an infected person's saliva, such as sharing eating utensils.


Call 911 if:

  • You have a seizure.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have trouble breathing or are breathing faster than usual.
  • You suddenly cannot hear.
  • You have abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting.
  • You are confused or less alert than usual.
  • You have a severe headache that is not relieved by pain medicine.
  • You have a stiff neck.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your swollen glands are red for more than 8 days.
  • You have trouble eating and drinking.
  • Your testicles are red, swollen, or painful (men).
  • You are pregnant and think you were exposed to the mumps virus (women).
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help decrease pain and fever. These medicines are available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Ibuprofen can cause stomach bleeding and kidney damage if not taken correctly.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Liquids help prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day. Drink water, juice, or broth instead of sports drinks. You may also need an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS has the right amounts of water, salts, and sugar you need to replace body fluids. Ask your healthcare provider where you can get an ORS.
  • Eat soft foods. These include cooked cereal, rice, mashed potatoes, applesauce, or soup. Do not eat foods that are sour or hard to chew. This can cause an increase in saliva and make your pain worse.
  • Get more rest. Rest as much as possible and get plenty of sleep.
  • Apply ice. Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your swollen glands for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.

Prevent mumps:

  • Ask your healthcare provider about the MMR vaccine. This vaccine helps protect you and others around you from measles, mumps, and rubella. If you were born before 1957, you were probably exposed to the mumps virus. This makes you naturally immune, so you do not need the vaccine. Healthcare workers born before 1957 may still need to get 2 doses of the vaccine during a mumps outbreak. Pregnant women cannot get the MMR vaccine.
  • Prevent the spread of germs. You are contagious (able to spread the virus) for 6 days after you start to have symptoms. Stay away from others, especially anyone who is pregnant, or who has not had the MMR vaccine. Stay home from school or work until your healthcare provider says you can return. Clean surfaces with a disinfecting cleaner. Cough and sneeze into the bend of your elbow. Wash your hands often, and after you use the bathroom or change a child's diaper. Use soap and water. Use a gel-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Mumps in Adults (Aftercare Instructions)

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