Mumps Symptoms and Complications

The most common symptoms of mumps include:

    A high fever of up to 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius), Headache,
    Loss of appetite,
    Swelling and pain in the parotid glands. These glands produce saliva, and are located between the ear and jaw at the back of each cheek. In cases of mumps, these glands typically swell and become painful to touch, making the child look like a hamster with food in its cheeks

The glands usually become increasingly swollen and painful over a period of 1 to 3 days. The pain gets worse when the child swallows, talks, chews, or drinks acidic juices (such orange or pineapple juice).

The swelling may be uneven. Both the left and right parotid glands may be affected, with one side swelling a few days before the other, or only one side may swell. In rare cases, mumps will attack other groups of salivary glands instead of the parotids, such as those found under the tongue or under the jaw. When this happens, painful swelling will occur in these areas, and even down to the front of the chest.

Other symptoms may appear in the first week after the parotid glands begin to swell and may include: stiff neck, headache, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, and even convulsions.

Mumps can cause inflammation and swelling of the brain and other organs, such as the pancreas, although this is not common. Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) are both rare complications of mumps.

Mumps in adolescent and adult males may also result in the development of orchitis, a painful inflammation of the testicles that can, in very rare situations, lead to sterility. Usually one testicle becomes swollen and painful about 7 to 10 days after the parotid glads swell, and this may be accompanied by a high fever, shaking chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. This abdominal pain can sometimes be mistaken for appendicitis, especially if the right testicle is affected. In rare cases, both testicles can become becomes swollen and painful. Even in this case, however, sterility is a rare complication. After 3 to 7 days, the testicular pain, fever, and swelling usually subside.

In some females, the ovaries may be affected by mumps, causing pain and tenderness in parts of the abdomen.

However, in other cases, the signs and symptoms of mumps can be so mild that no one suspects a mumps infection. Doctors believe that about one in three people may have a mumps infection without symptoms.

Mumps Complications

Serious complications of mumps are more common among adults than among children.

Women may be at risk for spontaneous abortions if they get mumps during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Almost half of adolescent or adult men who have mumps may experience painful swelling of the testicles, called orchitis. Sterility rarely occurs.

Rare complications caused by mumps include an infection of the brain (encephalitis), and inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). Other rare complications include arthritis, kidney and pancreas problems, deafness, and inflammation of the thyroid gland and ovaries.

These complications can have very serious consequences. If you suspect the onset of any of these complications, then seek immediate medical advice.

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