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Mumps in Children


What is mumps?

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, such as sharing cups or toys.

What are the signs and symptoms of mumps?

  • Fever, weakness, or tiredness
  • Swollen, painful glands on one or both sides of your child's face
  • Pain when your child chews or swallows

How is mumps diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider may be able to diagnose mumps based on your child's symptoms and a physical exam. Your child may need a blood test to confirm the infection.

How is mumps treated?

The goal of treatment is to decrease your child's symptoms. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help decrease pain and fever. These medicines are available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to give to your child and how often to give it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Ibuprofen can cause stomach bleeding and kidney damage if not taken correctly.

What are the risks of mumps?

Your child may lose some or all of his hearing. The infection may spread to your male child's testicles. One or both testicles may be red, swollen, and painful. Mumps may cause swelling of your child's pancreas. This can cause abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. The infection can spread to the brain or spinal cord. This can cause brain damage and may be life-threatening.

How can I manage my child's symptoms?

  • Give your child plenty of liquids. Liquids help prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid your child should drink each day. Give your child water, juice, or broth instead of sports drinks. He may also need an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS has the right amounts of water, salts, and sugar your child needs to replace body fluids. Ask your child's healthcare provider where you can get ORS.
  • Give your child soft foods. These include cooked cereal, rice, mashed potatoes, applesauce, or soup. Do not serve foods that are sour or hard to chew. This can cause an increase in saliva and make your child's pain worse.
  • Help your child rest. Your child should 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 child's swollen glands for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.

What can I do to prevent mumps?

  • Ask your child's healthcare provider about the MMR vaccine. This vaccine helps protect your child and others around him from measles, mumps, and rubella.
  • Prevent the spread of germs. Have your child stay away from others, especially anyone who is pregnant, or who has not had the MMR vaccine. Keep your child home from school or daycare until his healthcare provider says he can return.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child has a seizure.

When should I seek immediate care?

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

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child's swollen glands are red for more than 8 days.
  • Your child has trouble eating and drinking.
  • Your male child's testicles are red, swollen, or painful.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

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Further information

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

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