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What is mumps?

Mumps is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the parotid glands. Parotid glands help to make saliva (spit). 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 caregiver can usually diagnose mumps based on your child's symptoms and 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. He may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen: These medicines decrease pain and fever. You can buy them 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.
  • MMR vaccine helps prevent measles, mumps, and rubella. Children 1 year or older need 2 doses. Doses are usually given between 12 and 15 months and again between 4 and 6 years.

What are the risks of mumps?

Your child may lose some or all of his hearing. The infection may spread to your 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: This will help prevent dehydration. Ask how much your child should drink each day. Give your child water, juice, or broth instead of sports drinks. He may 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 caregiver where you can get ORS.
  • Give your child soft foods to eat: 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.
  • Use 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.
  • Avoid the spread of germs: Keep your child away from others. He will need to stay home from school or daycare until the pain and swelling are gone. This usually takes about 10 days.

Where can I find more information?

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta , GA 30333
    Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
    Web Address:

When should I contact my child's caregiver?

Contact your child's caregiver if:

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

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

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

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 caregivers 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.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. 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 CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.