Mumps is not an illness that gets a lot of attention in this day in age. In past decades, it was very common in the United States, but thanks to the mumps vaccine, there has been a huge decline in cases. The illness still exists, however. Children can still contract mumps, usually because they were not vaccinated against them when young. If a young one was to contract it, there are various treatments of mumps available to them.
What is Mumps?
Mumps is a viral infection that affects the salivary glands near the ears and chin. When infected, these glands swell up and create a “hamster-like” appearance. There is technically no cure for mumps — doctors can only treat the symptoms caused by the illness. In some cases, the infection can lead to complications such as hearing loss, or infertility in men, but one can usually avoid contracting the disease if they receive a vaccination for it in childhood.
What Are the Symptom of Mumps?
Many people show no signs of illness when they contract mumps. Others show very mild symptoms, and they usually appear two to three weeks after exposure to the virus. Some of these symptoms include swollen salivary glands on one or both cheeks, pain in these swollen glands, pain while chewing and swallowing, and fever. Muscle aches, headaches, fever, weakness, loss of appetite, and fatigue are also common symptoms of mumps.
What Causes Mumps?
A virus causes mumps. The condition mainly affects children and is extremely infectious, spreading from child to child very quickly if they did not receive the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. The cause, therefore, is coming into contact with someone who has the mumps. To avoid this, medical practitioners recommend administering the vaccine when children are young so that they can build up an immunity to it.
How Mumps Spreads
Mumps can spread in various ways including inhaling the airborne germs when someone sneezes or coughs, using the same eating utensils or dishware as an infected individual, and sharing food with an infected person. Kissing can also spread mumps, as can simply touching a surface or an item that an infected person has touched after wiping their nose or mouth.
Mumps and Antibiotics
Though most viruses can be treated using anti-viral medications, this type of treatment does not work on mumps infections. This is why most doctors must resort to treating the symptoms instead of the mumps itself.
Mumps Treatments: Water
Drinking lots of water can help flush the infection from the system more quickly. Other fluids can also help, but be careful to avoid fruit juices. These cause the salivary glands to produce more saliva, which can be painful for swollen glands. Gargling warm salt water can be helpful as well but don’t swallow), as it can help to keep the mouth free of infection and reduce swelling.
Mumps Treatments: Food
Eating can be tough when one has the mumps. It can be painful to chew, so liquid or soft foods that don’t require much mastication are best. Some examples of “safer” foods include milkshakes, mashed potatoes, pureed vegetables, and even baby food. It is important to still receive proper nutrition since your body is working hard fighting the infection, so any foods should be high in essentials like vitamins, protein, and vegetables.
Mumps Treatments: Rest
Getting adequate (or better yet, more than adequate) sleep is one of the best ways to ensure a quicker recovery from the mumps. Sleep helps the body to repair itself and fight off infection. Getting enough sleep at night and perhaps even napping during the day, if possible, can go a long way toward feeling better faster. People with the mumps should also avoid excess physical exertion while they are recovering.
Mumps Treatments: Medications
As stated previously, there is no medication for the mumps. It must simply run its course while the person treats his or her symptoms. Painkillers are one way to treat these symptoms. Many of these are available at the drugstore without a prescription. However, it is still important to follow the instructions on the label and to keep the doctor informed about what medicines you are taking.
Mumps is rarer in adults than in children, but adults are at a greater risk for complications. Some men with the mumps contract orchitis, a painful swelling of the testicles that lasts around a week, but can sometimes lead to infertility. In women, ovaries can swell and become painful. Again, the swelling goes down as the body fights off the illness, but in rare cases, infertility can result. Both men and women can experience an inflamed pancreas, or, rarely, viral meningitis. The latter occurs when the virus moves into the bloodstream and spreads to the central nervous system.