John Mersch, MD, FAAP
Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Mumps facts
- What is mumps?
- What is the history of mumps?
- What causes mumps? How is mumps transmitted?
- What are risk factors for contracting mumps?
- What are the signs and symptoms of mumps in children and adults?
- How is mumps diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for mumps in adults and in children?
- What are complications of mumps?
- Can mumps be prevented? Is there a vaccine for mumps?
- What is the prognosis of a mumps infection?
- Where can people find more information on mumps?
How is mumps diagnosed?
The diagnosis of mumps is primarily one of clinical acumen. Supportive laboratory studies are generally done to support the clinical impression. The purpose of these laboratory studies is to exclude other viruses that may give a similar clinical presentation as well as exclude very infrequent similarly presenting parotid gland enlargement (for examples, salivary gland cancer, Sjögren's syndrome, IgG-4 related disease, sarcoidosis, side effects of thiazide diuretics, etc.).
What is the treatment for mumps in adults and in children?
The mainstay of therapy (regardless of age range) is to provide comfort for this self-limited disease. Taking analgesics (acetaminophen, ibuprofen) and applying warm or cold packs to the swollen and inflamed salivary gland region may be helpful.
What are complications of mumps?
There are four serious complications of mumps: meningitis (infection of the spinal fluid which surrounds the brain and spinal cord), encephalitis (infection of the brain substance), deafness, and orchitis (infection of the testicle/testicles). All four complications may occur without the patient experiencing the classic involvement of the parotid gland.
- Meningitis: More than 50% of patients with mumps will have meningitis, which may occur during any period of the disease. Generally patients make a full recovery without permanent side effects.
- Encephalitis: Until the 1960s, mumps was the primary cause of confirmed viral encephalitis in the United States. Since the successful introduction of a vaccination program, the incidence of mumps encephalitis has fallen to 0.5%. Fortunately, most patients recover completely without permanent side effects.
- Deafness: Preceding the mumps vaccination program, permanent nerve damage resulting in deafness was not unusual. While occasionally bilateral, more commonly only one ear was affected.
- Orchitis: This complication was the most common side effect (40%) to postpubertal males who contracted mumps. Severe pain (often requiring hospitalization for pain management) was one-sided in 90% of cases. Between 30%-50% of affected testes atrophied (decreased in size), and 13% demonstrated impaired fertility. The "common knowledge" of sterility was actually rare. Previous concerns regarding mumps orchitis and later testicular cancer have not been proven. (Ovarian involvement occurred in approximately 7% of postpubertal girls.)
Less frequent complications of mumps infection include arthritis, infection of the pancreas, infection of the myocardium (heart muscle), and neurological conditions (for example, facial palsy, Guillain-Barré syndrome, etc.).
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