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Mumps and Toddlers

What are the symptoms? What are the treatments?

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Mumps is a viral infection that usually affects children. It's highly infectious, but one infection usually gives you lifelong immunity. Mumps is caused by an airborne virus, so it's caught be inhaling droplets in the air or picking it up from contact with hard surfaces where the virus has settled.

Mumps is contagious for about a week before and until a week after symptoms appear, which is two to three weeks after exposure to the virus.

There are some groups of people who should be protected from catching mumps. They are:

  • teenagers and non-vaccinated young adults

  • expectant moms.

These groups are at risk of complications, including:

  • acute pancreatitis and inflammation of the ovaries

  • painful swelling of the testicles in men who have gone through puberty, which can result in reduced fertility

  • secondary meningitis or, much more rarely, encephalitis

  • hearing loss, although this is usually temporary.

The illness isn't usually serious in young children, and most recover within a fortnight with no ill effect.

What are the symptoms of Mumps?

The most common symptom of mumps is a swelling of the glands (known as parotid glands) on one or both sides of the face, below the ears and over the jaw. One may be swollen initially, but usually both are affected. This is what gives the appearance of having gobstoppers in the cheeks. The parotid glands make saliva.

Your child might complain of earache or tummy ache, but around a third of children have such mild symptoms that mumps is barely detectable.

What are the treatments and remedies of Mumps?

If you suspect your child has mumps, you should get this confirmed by your health professional.

Usually, no medical treatment is required but you can make your child more comfortable if they're in pain by giving the appropriate dose of children's paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Although drinking fluids may be difficult, encourage your child to take as much water as possible: give them a straw or lidded cup to make drinking easier.

Avoid giving fruit juices, as these stimulate production of saliva, which may increase your child's discomfort.

Consult your health professional if your child's condition doesn't improve with pain relief, and get emergency treatment if you see signs of meningitis or encephalitis emerging.

If you have a teenager who has missed out on having an MMR booster, you should arrange for him to have it as soon as possible. It's estimated that 95% of the population needs to have been vaccinated in order to prevent outbreaks of measles, mumps and rubella.

This guide

This article is not meant to substitute medical advice provided by a practicing medical professional - if you have any concerns, contact your physician immediately.

 
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