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Disease: Mumps Mumps
Category: Infectious diseases
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Disease Definition:

The viral infection that primarily affects the parotid glands, one of three pairs of salivary glands, located below and in front of the ears, is called mumps. This condition can cause swelling in one or both parotid glands if an adult or a child contracts it.

The odds of contracting mumps aren't very high; however, complications of mumps are potentially serious. Until the mumps vaccine was licensed in the 1960s, mumps was common. However, the number of cases has dropped dramatically since then. It's important to get a vaccination to prevent mumps because this condition is still common in many parts of the world.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


No signs or symptoms are seen in about one in five people infected with the mumps virus. About two to three weeks after exposure to the virus, signs and symptoms usually appear; when they do develop, these signs and symptoms may include:


  • Fever
  • Swollen, painful salivary glands on one or both sides of the face
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Pain with chewing or swallowing

Swollen salivary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out are the primary and best known sign of mumps. As a matter of fact, the term "mumps" is an old expression for lumps within the cheeks or lumps.


The mumps virus, which spreads easily from one person to another through infected saliva, is the cause of mumps. Mumps is about as contagious as the flu (influenza). By breathing in saliva droplets of an infected person who has just sneezed or coughed, one can contract mumps if he/she is not immune. From sharing cups or utensils with someone who has mumps, someone may also contract the condition.



The following are included in the complications of mumps, which are rare but potentially serious:

Miscarriage can be caused by contracting mumps while a woman is pregnant, especially early in her pregnancy.

Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) may be caused by a viral infection such as mumps. Encephalitis can become life-threatening and can lead to neurological problems.  Encephalitis is a rare complication of mumps but it is serious.

This condition is the swelling of the pancreas. Nausea, vomiting and pain in the upper abdomen are included in the signs and symptoms of pancreatitis.

Hearing Loss:
Mumps can cause hearing loss in some rare cases, usually permanent, in one or both ears.

The infection and inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord is called meningitis. If the mumps virus spreads through the bloodstream to infect the central nervous system, this condition can occur. Meningitis is a rare complication of mumps, just like encephalitis.

Swelling of one or both testicles is caused by this painful inflammatory condition. In rare cases, orchitis leads to sterility, which is the inability to father a child.

Inflammation of the Ovaries:
A symptom of this problem may be pain in the lower abdomen in women. Fertility doesn't seem to be affected.


Antibiotics aren't effective for mumps because it is caused by a virus. So, a mumps infection must simply run its course, just like most viral illnesses. The good thing is that within two weeks, most adults and children recover from an uncomplicated case of mumps.


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Consultants Corner

Dr . Dirar Abboud

Dr . Dirar Abboud Hepatologist – Gastroenterologist

Yaser Habrawi , F.R.C.S.Ed

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Dr. Samer Al-Jneidy

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Dr. Faisal Dibsi

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Samir Moussa M.D.

Samir Moussa M.D. ENT Specialist

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