Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection with fever and swelling of the parotid glands. Widespread use of the mumps vaccine provides lifelong immunity.



About one-third of cases have no symptoms at all. Symptoms generally occur 2-3 weeks following exposure to the virus.

Mumps may cause some or all of the following Symptoms:

  • Painful swelling of the parotid glands (under the cheeks and jaw)
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness

Occasionally, other areas may also be affected, such as:

  • Swelling and pain under the tongue, jaw, or front of the chest
  • In males: painful inflammation of the testicles
  • In females: inflammation of the ovaries, which results in pain or tenderness in the abdomen

The virus that causes mumps is in the paramyxovirus family of viruses, which also includes measles. This virus is usually spread through contact with an infected person's saliva. The mumps virus is highly contagious, and spreads easily among people in close contact.


Diagnosis of mumps is determined by symptoms, personal medical history, and physical exam. Testing is rarely required although in certain situations it may be recommended.


There are no medications or specific treatment for mumps. Mumps is caused by a virus, and therefore cannot be treated with antibiotics. Mumps should NOT be treated with aspirin.

In general, mumps will last about 10-12 days. The following are general comfort measures:

  • Apply hot or cold compresses to swollen areas.
  • Gargle with warm salt water to soothe sore throat.
  • Treat high fever with non-aspirin medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Drink plenty of liquids, but avoid tart or acidic drinks, such as orange juice and lemonade.
  • Eat a soft, bland diet

Mumps can be prevented by vaccine. The vaccine is usually given as part of the mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccine series.


In otherwise healthy, well-nourished children, complications from mumps are rare. These may include deafness (which may not be permanent) or swelling or infection of the brain, pancreas, heart or other organs. Up to 20% of adolescent boys and men develop testicular inflammation; fertility is impaired in 13%, but sterility is rare.


Risk Factors that increases the chance of getting mumps are:

  • Exposure of unvaccinated individuals to others infected with mumps
  • Age: between 10 and 19
  • Season: winter and spring
  • People who have a weakened immune system, even if previously vaccinated