Mumps is a viral infection which generally leads to painful swelling in the salivary or parotid glands. Tenderness and swelling in the joints and puffiness in the cheeks are also experienced by mumps patients. Many people wonder is mumps is contagious? To know the answer, it is important to understand about mumps in detail. Let us understand about mumps, its symptoms, treatment, complications and prevention.
Mumps is not a seasonal disease and can happen anytime in the year. There is no known cure for this infection, but it can be effectively prevented with mumps vaccine. Since the introduction of this vaccine, the number of mumps cases has fallen drastically. Young children who are not vaccinated against mumps face the highest risk of contracting this illness. Is mumps contagious? Can you get it more than once? If you are seeking answers to these questions, the following piece of reading helps you to know more on mumps.
Is Mumps Contagious In Nature?
Mumps is a contagious viral disease. The mumps virus most likely spreads in crowded areas such as schools, nurseries, etc. The infection transfers via airborne droplets or through direct contact with saliva or respiratory secretions. It can be transmitted by contact with items contaminated by an infected person. The risk of contracting mumps increases as an individual stays around and comes in regular contact with a mumps patient.
To avoid the spread of this contagious viral disease, a mumps patient should avoid coming in contact with others and visiting crowded places. They should stay at home for at least 5 days after the swelling develops and until they are completely recovered, in some cases.
How Long Does the Symptoms of Mumps Last?
Symptoms of mumps normally start to show up 16 to 18 days after the initial infection. This is called the incubation period. Common symptoms of mumps are swelling and pain in the salivary glands, neck, cheeks and under the jaws. Dry mouth, difficulty in swallowing, loss of appetite, headache, fever, muscle ache and fatigue are also experienced. Studies show that most symptoms of Mumps generally start disappearing after 7 to 10 days.
While many people experience symptoms of mumps, 15 to 20% of people do not show any clinical signs of infection. These individuals have mumps, but are not aware of it. In about 50% of mumps the patients, the symptoms which appear are not specific to mumps and generally resemble the condition of other respiratory infections.
What is the Treatment for Mumps?
Diagnosis of mumps can be made by looking closely at the symptoms. In case the symptoms are unclear, the doctor can also order for a laboratory test. There is no known treatment for mumps, but one can reduce the symptoms of fever and pain by taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine. The patients can naturally relieve common mumps symptoms by staying on a healthy liquid or fruit juice diet and trying certain home remedies.
It is advisable for mumps patients to drink a lot of water and other fluids, and refrain from consuming solid foods in the initial stages of infection. They can later consume soups, oatmeal or mashed vegetables when the swelling reduces. Alternating hot and cold compression can help in easing the pain and tenderness. Citrus fruits and acidic foods should be avoided as these are known to increase saliva production.
Patients suffering from very high fever, i.e. 103°F and above may experience symptoms like disorientation, confusion, pain in the testicles or abdomen, or difficulty in drinking or eating. In this case, they must seek medical help immediately.
What are the Complications of Mumps?
Certain complications of mumps include orchitis, oophoritis, encephalitis, meningitis, mastitis and loss of hearing. Sometimes the complications of mumps can become fatal. Although still not proven, mumps in pregnant women can affect the fetus too.
How Can Mumps Be Prevented?
Mumps can be prevented by taking the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Although a single dose of this vaccine is not enough to prevent the disease, 2 doses of MMR vaccine proves to be 88% effective in preventing mumps. Each of these doses must be taken at a gap of at least 28 days. From an infant aged 12 months to a teen to an adult, everyone should get vaccinated against mumps. The best way to prevent mumps is to get vaccinated as advised by the physician.
After having mumps once, a person generally never gets it again in their lifetime. However, in certain cases mumps does occur for a second time. Compared to children, mumps affects adults more severely. However with a balanced diet, healthy lifestyle, hygienic practices and timely vaccination, mumps can be kept at bay.
Thus, it makes clear that mumps is contagious and in some cases can cause complications or rarely, even recur. Prevention with the help of vaccination is the best way to keep it at bay while treatment of mumps includes anti-inflammatories and symptomatic approach.