Mumps: The Most Common Viral Disease Affecting Parotid Glands

Parotid Glands

In the world of medical sciences, one viral disease stands out as the most common ailment affecting the parotid glands. This disease is none other than Mumps. Predominantly a childhood disease, it primarily targets the salivary glands, particularly the parotid glands.

The parotid glands are a pair of salivary glands situated just below and in front of the ears. They have an essential role in the production of saliva, promoting good oral health. When these glands are attacked by the mumps virus, it leads to their inflammation, a condition known as parotitis.

The Mumps Virus: The Offending Agent

The mumps virus is a pathogen belonging to the Paramyxovirus family. This virus is highly contagious and primarily spreads through droplets of saliva dispensed into the air by an infected person’s cough or sneeze. In some cases, sharing utensils or coming into close contact with an infected person can also lead to the spread of the mumps virus.

Transmission ModeDetails
Respiratory DropletsCoughs and sneezes from an infected person can release the mumps virus.
Direct ContactSharing utensils or close personal contact can also lead to transmission.
Contaminated SurfacesVirus droplets can survive on surfaces and infect individuals who touch those surfaces and then their faces.
Modes of Mumps Virus Transmission

Symptoms of Mumps

The incubation period for the mumps virus extends from 12 to 25 days after exposure. Initial symptoms mimic those of the flu, including fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and loss of appetite. The hallmark symptom of the mumps, however, is the painful swelling of the parotid glands, resulting in “chipmunk cheeks”.

Read also:   Can You Have Parotitis Without Mumps?

Complications of Mumps

While mumps is often a mild disease, severe cases can lead to complications. These include orchitis (swelling of the testicles in males who have reached puberty), oophoritis (swelling of the ovaries in females), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and meningitis (inflammation of brain and spinal cord membranes). Deafness, albeit rare, is a serious complication that can occur.


The most efficient way to prevent the mumps virus is through vaccination. In most countries, mumps vaccination is a part of the combined MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine given in early childhood and a subsequent booster dose.

While mumps ranks as the most common viral disease affecting the parotid glands, preventative measures like proper hygiene practices and vaccination have proven effective in lowering the incidence rate of this disease.


What are 3 symptoms of mumps?
The three main symptoms of mumps are:

  1. Swollen salivary glands: The most frequent indication is a painful inflammation of the salivary glands situated on either side of the face, typically beneath the ear. As a result, the jawline may appear visibly bigger. 
  2. Fever: Mumps often presents with a fever, usually lasting for a few days. The body temperature may rise above normal, causing discomfort and fatigue.
  3. Headache and muscle aches: Individuals with mumps may experience headaches, as well as muscle aches and pains throughout their body. These symptoms can contribute to a general feeling of malaise.
Read also:   Leukoplakia

Is mumps very serious?
Even though mumps is usually seen as a mild sickness, there can be complications in specific situations. Occasionally, mumps can cause more severe issues like meningitis, pancreatitis, encephalitis, or orchitis (inflammation in males’ testicles). These complications may result in extra symptoms and might need medical treatment. 

Can mumps be cured?
While there is no specific remedy for mumps, the majority of people naturally recover within a couple of weeks without needing medical assistance. The main objective of treatment is to alleviate symptoms and address any potential complications. Adequate rest, hydration, and non-prescription painkillers can provide relief and alleviate discomfort throughout the healing process. 

Why is mumps so painful?
The mumps virus causes inflammation and swelling in the salivary glands, leading to pain and discomfort. This swelling puts pressure on nearby tissues and nerves, causing varying levels of pain. Some individuals may only experience mild discomfort, while others may have more severe symptoms. 

Read also:   Erythroplakia

What is the best treatment for mumps?
The most effective way to treat mumps is by managing the symptoms and giving the body a chance to heal naturally. Taking time to rest, staying hydrated, and eating easily chewable soft foods can help lessen the discomfort. Over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to lower fever and alleviate pain. It is essential to seek advice from healthcare experts to ensure the right medication and dosage, particularly when administering them to children. 

Can mumps be transmitted?
Mumps is very contagious and can easily be passed from person to person through respiratory droplets when someone who is infected coughs, sneezes, or talks. It can also spread through contact with infected saliva or surfaces that have come into contact with the virus. To stop the spread of mumps, it is crucial to maintain good hygiene habits like frequently washing hands and keeping away from individuals who are infected. 

Does mumps go away by itself?
In most cases, mumps will go away on its own within a few weeks without specific medical treatment. However, it is important to take appropriate measures to manage symptoms, rest, and avoid spreading the virus to others. Seeking medical advice is recommended, especially if complications develop or symptoms persist beyond the expected recovery period.

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