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The MMR vaccination should protect your child against mumps. However, some people still have doubts about the vaccination so this article may help you to decide whether your child should be vaccinated.
Most cases of mumps are in children aged from 5 to 14, although cases in young adults are on the increase.
The most common symptoms are:
– A high fever, with temperature peaking at around 103F/39.5C.
– Loss of appetite.
– Swelling and pain in the patotid glands which are situated between the ear and the jaw.
– After about one week, other symptoms to appear may include: headache, stiff neck, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting.
The swelling maybe uneven with either one or both sides of the face affected making the child look like a hamster with food in its cheeks.
In rare cases mumps can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and meningitis.
Mumps in adolescent males may result in the development of orchitis, a painful inflammation of the testicles that can, in rare cases, result in sterility. Before the advent of vaccination, whenever a child in the neighbourhood caught mumps mothers used to take their young sons around to the patient’s home in the hope that the child would catch mumps. The risk to a young child was thought to be less and the resulting immunity which normally lasts for life would prevent the child contracting the illness later in life when the consequences could be more serious.
Around twenty per cent of infected people will be affected so slightly that they will not even realise they have mumps.
Mumps is a virus and thus will cannot be treated with antibiotics. Like most viral illnesses, mumps can be left to run its course and most children and adults recover in 2-3 weeks as long as there are no complications.
Treat the symptoms with paracetamol or ibuprofen. DO NOT USE ASPIRIN. Unless instructed by a doctor, don’t give aspirin to a child who has a viral illness as the use of aspirin in such cases can lead to the development of Reye Syndrome, a serious and potentially deadly encephalitis-like illness.
Give plenty of fluids but avoid acidic fruit juices (lemonade, orange juice etc) as these can increase parotid pain.
A child with mumps doesn’t need to stay in bed but should not go to school while still infectious. A doctor can advise when it is safe to return.

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