What is Mumps?
Mumps is a highly communicable disease caused by a virus that passes from one person to another through saliva, nasal secretions and close personal contact. The mumps most commonly affects children.
History of Mumps
The mumps is most commonly treated with prevention. The mumps vaccination was introduced in 1971 and given to young children. As a result, it has decreased mumps by 99 percent since its introduction to the United States. Unfortunately due to recent debates over vaccinations, an increase in the number of cases has been reported. For example, one mumps and chicken pox outbreak in 2019 impacted approximately 5,200 people (x, x).
The first sign of mumps include puffy or swollen cheeks, which may occur 2-3 weeks after exposure to the virus. The swollen cheeks are caused by swollen salivary glands and may lead to jaw pain. Other symptoms include flu-like symptoms, pain while chewing, headache or fever. Mumps is extremely contagious, but around 20 percent of people with it will show no signs.
Pain While Chewing
The mumps are discomforting to say the least. Approximately 75 percent of child cases are full-blown and exhibit all symptoms. In addition to generalized aches and pains, one common symptom of mumps is pain while chewing. This occurs because of swollen salivary glands, thus making it difficult to chew (x).
In other cases, the remaining 25 percent of children show no signs of swollen glands or pain while chewing, but they tend to follow the practical course of mumps. The typical course begins with fever, headache and vomiting (x).
As mentioned above, fever is just a typical symptom in the course of the mumps. However, a fever associated with mumps is typically low-grade and no cause for concern. In any case, a fever is the body’s number one way of fighting off bacteria and infection (x).
Pain and Swelling in Salivary Glands
Pain and swelling in the salivary glands is the tell-tale sign of laryngitis. This is what gives an individual a hamster-like face. Generally pain and swelling of the salivary glands occurs without complications. Although it is painful and uncomfortable, it is not a severe issue (x).
Although prevalence of the mumps has decreased significantly, there are several other symptoms that may occur. If you notice a young child with fatigue, body aches or low appetite, in combination with any of the symptoms listed above, be sure to consult a doctor. There is no antiviral for mumps, but the symptoms may be treated and alleviated.
Causes of Mumps
Highly Contagious Virus
The mumps is among a number of common viral infections that are highly contagious. Although vaccinations are almost 100 percent effective, outbreaks still occur due to the severity of the contagious condition. Based on its contagious nature, outbreaks can become a serious issue (x).
Breathing Saliva Droplets
Saliva droplets may be hard to detect, but they are still there. Saliva droplets are any secretions expelled from the respiratory tract, the mouth and nose, while talking, sneezing or coughing. This is the most common cause of mumps because it is the easiest way to contract the condition. Hence, the “say it, don’t spray it” rule is applicable.
Sharing Cups and Utensils
Between saliva droplets and the severe contagiousness of the disease, it is vital not to share anything that comes into contact with the mouth of another individual. Sharing cups and utensils with others is a very common cause of mumps. In turn, the bacteria in the saliva remain on the object that is shared, only to be spread to other individuals (x).
Anything having to do with the mouth, nose or saliva can easily cause mumps. In general, individuals with the mumps are contagious for 15 days — six days before the virus shows symptoms and nine days after. Other causes of the mumps include sneezing, coughing and kissing.
Prevention of the mumps relies heavily on vaccinations, but also on teaching your children not to share food, drinks or utensils with others.
Mumps Remedies and Supplements
The easiest way to treat mumps is with home remedies. Garlic is one of the safest and most effective treatments for them. Garlic has antimicrobial effects that may provide pain relief and reduce inflammation. You may apply garlic topically to the affected areas or ingest raw garlic whole or chopped, making sure to swallow the juices. The recommended dosage of garlic is up to 1,200 mg (x).
The elderberry is part of the honeysuckle family and produces an interesting berry-like fruit. This herb has natural properties that can strengthen the immune system. Elderberry specifically helps decrease pain and swelling. Children and pregnant women are not always recommended to use elderberrry. You must check with your doctor before using it. The recommended dosage of elderberry is 1,000 to 3,000 mg daily (x).
Apply Ice Packs to Swollen Areas
Other remedies for mumps include topical ones to reduce inflammation and swelling. Applying ice packs to the affected areas is a helpful way to decrease swelling. For children, ice packs should be used, accompanied by plenty of rest.
Other Remedies and Supplements
The key to treat the symptoms of mumps is with oral remedies and other homeopathic treatments. Sometimes it is best to treat this condition like the flu with remedies including:
- Rest when feeling weak or tires
- Drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
- Eating soft foods that are easy to chew (to prevent pain while chewing)
- Avoiding acidic foods or drinks that may cause more pain in the salivary glands
The Bottom Line
Mumps is a very real condition that can become serious. Some of the consequences of untreated mumps may include orchitis, meningitis, encephalitis or even miscarriage for pregnant women (x). Your swollen glands may seem like nothing to worry about, but it is best to take care of them as soon as possible. Consult your doctor if you suspect the mumps to determine the best plan for treatment.