Mumps self-care


Mumps self-care

Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects saliva-producing (salivary) glands that are located near your ears. Mumps can cause swelling in one or both of these glands.

Mumps was common in the United States until mumps vaccination became routine. Since then, the number of cases has dropped dramatically.

However, mumps outbreaks still occur in the United States, and the number of cases has crept up in recent years. These outbreaks generally affect people who aren't vaccinated, and occur in close-contact settings such as schools or college campuses.

Complications of mumps, such as hearing loss, are potentially serious but rare. There's no specific treatment for mumps.

You have three pairs of major salivary glands — parotid, sublingual and submandibular. Each gland has its own tube (duct) leading from the gland to the mouth.

Some people infected with the mumps virus have either no signs or symptoms or very mild ones. When signs and symptoms do develop, they usually appear about two to three weeks after exposure to the virus.

The primary sign of mumps is swollen salivary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out. Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the swollen salivary glands on one or both sides of your face
  • Pain while chewing or swallowing
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you or your child has signs and symptoms of mumps. Mumps is highly contagious for about nine days after symptoms appear. Tell your doctor's office before you go in that you suspect mumps so arrangements can be made to avoid spreading the virus to others in the waiting room.

In the meantime:

  • Rest as much as possible
  • Try to ease symptoms with cold compresses and over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others)

Mumps has become uncommon, so it's possible that another condition is causing your signs and symptoms. Swollen salivary glands and a fever could indicate:

  • A blocked salivary gland
  • A different viral infection

Mumps is characterized by swollen, painful salivary glands in the face, causing the cheeks to puff out.

Mumps is caused by a virus that spreads easily from person to person through infected saliva. If you're not immune, you can contract mumps by breathing in saliva droplets from an infected person who has just sneezed or coughed. You can also contract mumps from sharing utensils or cups with someone who has mumps.


Complications of mumps are rare, but some are potentially serious.

Most mumps complications involve inflammation and swelling in some part of the body, such as:

  • Testicles. This condition, known as orchitis, causes one or both testicles to swell in males who've reached puberty. Orchitis is painful, but it rarely leads to the inability to father a child (sterility).
  • Brain. Viral infections such as mumps can lead to inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). Encephalitis can cause neurological problems and become life-threatening.
  • Membranes and fluid around the brain and spinal cord. This condition, known as meningitis, can occur if the mumps virus spreads through your bloodstream to infect your central nervous system.
  • Pancreas. The signs and symptoms of this condition, known as pancreatitis, include pain in the upper abdomen, nausea and vomiting.

Other complications of mumps include:

  • Hearing loss. Hearing loss can occur in one or both ears. Although rare, the hearing loss is sometimes permanent.
  • Heart problems. Rarely, mumps has been associated with abnormal heartbeat and diseases of the heart muscle.
  • Miscarriage. Contracting mumps while you're pregnant, especially early in your pregnancy, may lead to miscarriage.


The best way to prevent mumps is to be vaccinated against the disease. Most people have immunity to mumps once they're fully vaccinated.

The mumps vaccine is usually given as a combined measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) inoculation, which contains the safest and most effective form of each vaccine. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended before a child enters school. Those vaccines should be given when the child is:

  • Between the ages of 12 and 15 months
  • Between the ages of 4 and 6 years

College students, international travelers and health care workers in particular are encouraged to make sure they've had two doses of the MMR vaccine. A single dose is not completely effective at preventing mumps.

A third dose of vaccine isn't routinely recommended. But your doctor might recommend a third dose if you are in an area that is experiencing an outbreak. A study of a recent mumps outbreak on a college campus showed that students who received a third dose of MMR vaccine had a much lower risk of contracting the disease.

Those who don't need the MMR vaccine

You don't need a vaccination if you:

  • Had two doses of the MMR vaccine after 12 months of age
  • Had one dose of MMR after 12 months of age and you're a preschool child or an adult who isn't at high risk of measles or mumps exposure
  • Have blood tests that demonstrate your immunity to measles, mumps and rubella
  • Were born before 1957 — most people in that age group were ly infected by the virus naturally and have immunity

Also, the vaccine isn't recommended for:

  • People who have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the antibiotic neomycin or any other component of the MMR vaccine
  • Pregnant women or women who plan to get pregnant within the next four weeks
  • People with severely compromised immune systems

Those who should get the MMR vaccine

You should get vaccinated if you don't fit the criteria listed above and if you:

  • Are a nonpregnant woman of childbearing age
  • Attend college or another postsecondary school
  • Work in a hospital, medical facility, child care center or school
  • Plan to travel overseas or take a cruise

Those who should wait to get the MMR vaccine

Consider waiting if:

  • You're moderately or severely ill. Wait until you recover.
  • You're pregnant. Wait until after you give birth.

Those who should check with their doctors

Talk to your doctor before getting vaccinated for mumps if you:

  • Have cancer
  • Have a blood disorder
  • Have a disease that affects your immune system, such as HIV/AIDS
  • Are being treated with drugs, such as steroids, that affect your immune system
  • Have received another vaccine within the past four weeks

Side effects of the vaccine

The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. Getting the MMR vaccine is much safer than getting mumps.

Most people experience no side effects from the vaccine. Some people experience a mild fever or rash or achy joints for a short time.

Rarely, children who get the MMR vaccine might experience a seizure caused by fever. But these seizures haven't been associated with any long-term problems.

Extensive reports — from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — conclude that there's no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.


If you or your child has signs or symptoms of mumps, the doctor is ly to:

  • Ask whether you or your child has been vaccinated against mumps and whether you might have been exposed to the virus
  • Recommend a blood test to check for evidence of the mumps virus


Mumps is caused by a virus, so antibiotics aren't effective. But most children and adults recover from an uncomplicated case of mumps within a few weeks.

People with mumps are generally no longer contagious and can safely return to work or school about five days after the appearance of signs and symptoms.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Rest is the best treatment. There's little your doctor can do to speed recovery.

But you can take some steps to ease pain and discomfort and keep others from becoming infected. Try to:

  • Isolate yourself or your child to prevent spreading the disease to others. Someone with mumps may be contagious up to five days after the onset of signs and symptoms.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to ease symptoms.
  • Use a warm or cold compress to ease the pain of swollen glands.
  • Wear an athletic supporter and use cold compresses to ease the pain of tender testicles.
  • Avoid foods that require lots of chewing. Try broth-based soups or soft foods, such as mashed potatoes or oatmeal.
  • Avoid sour foods, such as citrus fruits or juices, which stimulate saliva production.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.

If your child has mumps, watch for complications. Call your doctor if your child develops:

  • Fever of 103 F (39 C) or greater
  • Trouble eating or drinking
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Abdominal pain
  • In boys, pain and swelling of the testicles

What you can do

  • Write down symptoms you or your child has had, and for how long.
  • Try to remember if you or your child has been exposed to someone with signs and symptoms of mumps within the last few weeks.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that your or your child takes.
  • Write down key medical information, including other diagnosed conditions.
  • Write down key personal information, including any recent changes or stressors in your life.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What's the most ly cause of these signs and symptoms?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend?
  • How soon should symptoms improve?
  • Are there are home remedies or self-care steps that could help relieve symptoms?
  • Am I or is my child contagious? For how long?
  • What steps should we take to reduce the risk of infecting others?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is ly to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • What signs and symptoms have you noticed? When did you first notice them? Have they worsened over time?
  • Do symptoms include abdominal pain or, in males, testicular pain?
  • Has anyone else you know had signs and symptoms common to mumps within the last few weeks?
  • Are you and your child current on your vaccinations?
  • Are you or your child currently being treated or have you recently been treated for any other medical conditions?
  • What medications are you or your child currently taking, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs as well as vitamins and supplements?
  • Is your child in school or child care?
  • Are you pregnant or breast-feeding?

Last Updated Sep 26, 2018

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Mumps Treatment & Management: Approach Considerations, Inpatient Care, Consultations and Transfer

Mumps self-care

Susceptible children, adolescents, and adults should be vaccinated against mumps, unless vaccination is contraindicated. Mumps vaccine is important for children approaching puberty and for adolescents and, adults who have not had mumps.

The MMR vaccine is the vaccine of choice for routine administration and should be used in all situations in which recipients are also ly to be susceptible to measles, rubella, or both.

A favorable benefit-to-cost ratio for routine mumps immunization is better achieved when the MMR vaccine or the MMRV vaccine is given.

Persons are susceptible to mumps, unless they have documentation of the following:

  • Physician-diagnosed mumps
  • Adequate immunization with live attenuated mumps virus vaccine on or after their first birthday
  • Laboratory evidence of immunity

Prior to 1977 in the US, the live attenuated mumps vaccine was not used routinely and the peak age incidence of disease in children was age 5-9 years; as such, most persons born before 1957 are ly to have been naturally infected with the mumps virus between 1957 and 1977.

Therefore, most are considered to be immune, even in cases without clinically recognizable mumps disease. However, this cutoff date for susceptibility is arbitrary.

Although outbreak control efforts should be focused on persons born after 1956, these recommendations do not preclude vaccination of possibly susceptible persons born before 1957, who currently may be exposed in outbreak settings.

Persons who are unsure of their mumps disease history, mumps vaccination history, or both should be vaccinated. Persons who have previously either received mumps vaccine or had mumps, do not have an increased risk of local or systemic reactions from receiving live attenuated mumps vaccine.

Testing for susceptibility prior to vaccination, especially among adolescents and young adults, is not necessary.

In addition to the expense, some tests (eg, mumps skin test, complement-fixation antibody test) may be unreliable, and tests with established reliability (eg, neutralization test, enzyme immunoassay, single-radial hemolysis antibody test) are not easily available.

A single dose of vaccine in the volume specified by the manufacturer (standardly 0.5 mL) should be administered subcutaneously (SC). Although not routinely recommended, intramuscular (IM) vaccination is effective and safe.

Administration of the live attenuated mumps virus vaccine as either MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) or MMRV (measles-mumps-rubella-varicella) is recommended at any age on or after the first birthday for all susceptible persons, unless a contraindication is present.

It should not be administered to infants younger than 12 months because persisting maternal antibody might interfere with seroconversion. To ensure immunity, all infants vaccinated too early (before their first birthday), should be revaccinated on or after their first birthday. [23, 24]  This action properly covers them for their first dose.

A second dose is then, administered at age 4-6 years, to serve as a safeguard to ensure immunity against possible initial vaccine failure.

ACIP recommends a third dose of MMR vaccine for those previously vaccinated with two doses and identified as being at higher risk for acquiring mumps because of an outbreak. [34, 35]

If the vaccine is administered after an exposure to the mumps virus, it may not provide adequate protection from disease development.

However, if the exposure does not result in infection, vaccination should induce protection against infection from subsequent exposures.

The risk of vaccine-associated adverse events does not increase, if the vaccine is administered to persons who are incubating disease at that time.

Immunoglobulin (IVIG) has not shown benefit to patients as treatment for post-exposure prophylaxis and hence, is not recommended. In the United States, mumps IVIG is no longer available or licensed for use. Vaccination post-exposure is not harmful and may possibly avert later disease.

A study published in 2011 evaluated MMR vaccine effectiveness in persons who received 1 or 2 doses of this vaccine during a mumps outbreak that occurred between September 1, 2009 and June 10, 2010 in Ontario, Canada.

This study also aimed to estimate the coverage level required to achieve “herd” immunity and to interrupt community transmission. Using data from Ontario's Public Health Information System, 134 confirmed cases were identified; 114 of those reported receiving the MMR vaccine. Of those, 63 received 1 dose (49.

2-81.6% effectiveness), while 32 received 2 doses (66.3-88% effectiveness). The authors concluded that if the assumed vaccine effectiveness after receiving 2 doses of MMR is 85%, then the populace vaccine coverage of 88.2% and 98% would be needed to interrupt community transmission of mumps.

This study reemphasizes the need for routine vaccination and warns against complacency in vaccination programs. [25]

Cardemil et al evaluated the effectiveness of a third dose of the MMR vaccine in a study that included 20,496 university students, of which 259 were diagnosed with mumps during an outbreak.

The study reported the attack rate was lower among the 4783 students that received the third dose than those who had received two (6.7 vs 14.5 cases per 1000 population, P< 0.001). The third dose was associated with a 78.

1% lower risk of mumps compared to the second dose at 28 days post vaccination (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.22; 95% confidence interval, 0.12 to 0.39). [26]

Another mumps outbreak was reported in September 2011 on a university campus in California. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) confirmed using PCR, 3 cases of mumps in college students who were recently evaluated at the university's student health services with symptoms suggestive of mumps.

An investigation by CDPH, student health services, and the local health department identified a total of 29 mumps cases. The index patient was an unvaccinated student with history of recent travel to Western Europe, where mumps infection was circulating.

Additional knowledge in regard to the date of onset of this index case, clarified that two generations of transmission had occurred before public health authorities were properly alerted.

This mumps outbreak illustrates the value of requiring MMR vaccination (including documentation of immunization or other evidence of immunity) prior to college enrollment, the need for heightened clinical awareness, and timely reporting of suspected mumps cases to public health personnel. [27]

Children age 12-23 months who are vaccinated with the combination MMRV vaccine have a slightly higher risk of febrile seizures, when compared to those children who are vaccinated separately, with the MMR and the VZV (varicella vaccine). The risk period for febrile seizures is 5-12 days after receipt of MMRV.

However, the risk for febrile seizures is not increased among the older children aged 4-6 years receiving the MMRV. In response to this observation, the AAP has recommended that for the first dose given at age 12-48 months, the child can receive either MMR and VZV vaccines separately, or the MMRV.

For children 48 months of age or older, both recommended vaccinations are for the inclusive MMVR. [28]

A published 2015 study by Siberry et al compared the immunity response to MMR vaccination of children who contracted perinatal HIV (PHIV), to those children who were perinatally HIV-exposed but uninfected (HEU).

The children in the PHIV group lacked serologic evidence of immunity to MMR, despite proper documented immunization and current treatment with sustained combination antiretroviral therapy (cART).

The study found that among 428 children with PHIV, and 221 children with HEU, the immunity protection of the participants was significantly lower in children who contracted perinatal HIV (PHIV), for measles seroprotection (57% vs 99%), rubella seroprotection (65% vs 98%), and mumps seropositivity (59% vs 97%). [29]

Reports of adverse effects following mumps vaccination have cited low-grade fever and parotitis. Allergic reactions, presenting as a pruritic rash, have been temporally associated with mumps vaccination, but are uncommon. If allergic reactions occur, they are usually mild and of brief duration.

Encephalitis occurring within 30 days after receipt of a mumps-containing vaccine has been reported to be 0.4 cases per million doses. This incidence is not greater than the observed background incidence rate for encephalitis in healthy populations.

Other indicators of CNS involvement, such as febrile seizures and sensorineural deafness, have been infrequently reported.

[30]  Reports of CNS illness in patients following administration of the mumps vaccination, do not necessarily indicate an etiologic relationship between the CNS complication and the vaccine.

Although the live attenuated mumps vaccine does infect the placenta and fetus, no evidence indicates that this infection causes congenital malformations in the fetus.

Due to the theoretical risk of fetal damage, avoiding administration of live virus vaccine to pregnant women is prudent.

Women of child-bearing age are recommended to avoid pregnancy for 3 months postvaccination of the live attenuated mumps vaccine.

Routine precautions prior to vaccinating women of child-bearing age are to inquire if they are, or may be pregnant. Of those who say they are or may be, it is important to explain the theoretical risk to those women who plan to receive this vaccine.

Vaccination during pregnancy should not be considered an indication for termination of pregnancy. However, discussion to take this action rests between the patient and her physician.

Vaccine administration should not be postponed due to a minor febrile illness, such as a mild upper respiratory infection. MMR vaccination scheduled for those persons who have a severe febrile illness should be deferred, until health is restored.

The live attenuated mumps vaccine is produced in chick embryo cell culture; hence persons with a history of anaphylactic reactions (i.e., hives, swelling of the mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, hypotension, shock) after egg product ingestion should be vaccinated with caution, using published protocols.

Evidence indicates that persons are not at increased risk, if their egg allergy response is not of an anaphylactic nature. Vaccination can proceed in the usual manner for these patients.

As a precaution, patients with known egg allergy should be observed for a minimum of 20 minutes post receiving the vaccine, at the medical facility. 

No evidence indicates that persons with allergies to chickens or feathers are at increased risk of reaction to the vaccine.

Mumps vaccine does contain trace amounts of neomycin (25 mcg).

As such, persons who have experienced anaphylactic reactions to topically or systemically administered neomycin should not receive the mumps vaccine.

Patients who have a neomycin allergy presenting as a contact dermatitis without systemic involvement can receive the vaccine, as its administration is not contraindicated in this situation.

Passively acquired antibody can interfere with the response to live attenuated virus vaccines because antibody in these products neutralizes the vaccine virus and interferes with successful immunization. Therefore, the MMR vaccine should be administered at least 2 weeks before, or deferred until 3 months after the administration of IVIG or blood product transfusion.

Recommendations for live attenuated vaccine administration differ for children with immunodeficiency diseases or for those receiving immunosuppressive therapy (e.g.

, patients with HIV or oncologic disease, or treatment with high dose corticosteroids).

All HIV-infected patients who are not severely immune compromised (age-specific CD4+ T-lymphocyte counts of ≥15%) should receive MMR vaccination as scheduled.

Patients with leukemia in remission, whose chemotherapy ended at least 3 months earlier, can receive live attenuated mumps virus vaccine (as MMR). Vaccination of close susceptible contacts to immunocompromised patients is very important as to minimize risk of mumps exposure. Immunized patients cannot transmit the mumps vaccine virus to others.


Mumps self-care

Mumps self-care

Mumps is an infection of the salivary (parotid) glands, which are found on the side of the neck, below your ears. Mumps is most common in school-aged children and young adults.

Mumps is caused by a virus and is spread by coughing and sneezing. After being infected by the virus it takes 12 to 25 days for the illness to develop (the ‘incubation period’).

People with mumps are infectious from about one week before the start of symptoms, until nine days after the swelling appears. Children should be kept away from school until nine days after the swelling appears.


  • fever
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • swollen glands

Usually there is swelling and tenderness or pain affecting both salivary glands. Sometimes one gland will swell first, followed by the other after one or two days. There can be pain and discomfort while swallowing, talking, chewing and drinking.

Some children have no symptoms and can have mumps without knowing.


There is no specific treatment available for mumps (other than relieving the symptoms) so preventing it by immunisation is very important.

Australia’s National Immunisation Program includes the free mumps vaccine in its measles–mumps–rubella (MMR) vaccine and MMRV vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox [varicella]).

Children who are immunised according to the schedule receive the MMR vaccine at age 12 months and then MMRV vaccine at 18 months.

See Your Pharmacist or Medical Professional

You should always see your doctor if you think your child has mumps.

Also see your doctor if:

  • there is repeated vomiting, headache and a stiff neck
  • there are any changes in consciousness, or extreme drowsiness
  • the person has a fit (convulsions)
  • the person affected is a male going through puberty
  • the person has ear problems
  • you are pregnant and think you have been exposed to mumps


Meningitis is a medical emergency that can cause permanent disability and death. It involves the inflammation of the meninges, the membrane which lines the brain and spinal cord.

Meningitis is a different infection from mumps, but as there can be some similar symptoms, it is important for parents to be aware of the signs. Meningitis can also be a complication seen with mumps.

It is important to be aware that the vaccination available does not cover all types of meningitis, and a rash does not always appear. Meningitis can affect infants, children and adults.

Meningitis can occur very suddenly and requires immediate medical treatment: see a doctor urgently or call  000 for ambulance.

Treatment Tips

  • encourage the child to drink plenty of fluids
  • encourage the child to get plenty of rest
  • choose soft foods if swallowing is uncomfortable
  • give paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce fever and help reduce pain (see Treatment Options below)
  • do not give aspirin to children under 16 years old as it may cause Reye’s syndrome, a serious condition
  • antiseptic mouthwashes may be helpful for oral hygiene while there is swelling of the face (check individual products for use in young children; you can also ask your pharmacist for advice)
  • keep the child or person at home (for at least nine days after the swelling appears) to avoid spreading the infection

Medications to reduce fever and relieve pain

e.g. paracetamol liquid preparations (Dymadon Suspension 1 Month to 2 Years, Dymadon Suspension 2 to 12 Years, Panadol (Children)); ibuprofen liquid preparations (Dimetapp Children’s Ibuprofen Pain & Fever Relief Suspension, Dimetapp Infant’s Ibuprofen Colour Free Pain & Fever Relief Suspension, Nurofen for Children)

  • paracetamol is suitable for most people but it is important not to give more than the recommended dose; check labels for dosage instructions appropriate to the age of the child, and dose by weight
  • paracetamol is a common ingredient in other medicines, e.g. cold and flu preparations, (which may be used by adults and adolescents) so be careful not to double dose
  • paracetamol and ibuprofen are also available in other forms (e.g. tablets), which are often medicines classified for General Sale; these may be preferred by older children and adults. Check labels for dose appropriate to age; you can also ask your pharmacist for individualised advice
  • paracetamol and ibuprofen can be used together, because they work differently. They are usually given at different times; ask your pharmacist for dosing advice
  • ibuprofen is not suitable for everyone. Check with your pharmacist before giving ibuprofen if the child or person:
    • is dehydrated
    • has a history of stomach problems, such as ulcers or indigestion
    • has asthma; some people with asthma find their condition is made worse by these types of medicines
    • has kidney problems or a heart condition
    • takes other medications

Phone helplines

If you are concerned about your child there is a national 24-hour health advice helpline and also parenting helplines in each state and territory:

National helplines:

  • healthdirect 24-hour health advice line: 1800 022 222
  • Pregnancy, Birth & Baby Helpline: 1800 882 436
  • Immunisation Hotline (business hours): 1800 671 811

Availability of medicines

  • GENERAL SALE available through pharmacies and possibly other retail outlets.
  • PHARMACY ONLY available for sale through pharmacies only.
  • PHARMACIST ONLY may only be sold by a pharmacist.

Search myDr for Consumer Medicine Information

Last Reviewed: 25/09/2009


What are the symptoms of mumps?

The symptoms of mumps usually develop 14 to 25 days after a person is infected with the virus.

The most common symptoms are swelling of the parotid glands, a pair of glands responsible for producing saliva. They are found on either side of the face, just below the ears. The swelling usually affects both glands, although it’s also possible for just one gland to be affected. The swelling can cause pain, tenderness and difficulty with swallowing.

Other symptoms may include:

  • a general feeling of being unwell
  • high temperature
  • discomfort when chewing
  • headache
  • joint pain
  • feeling sick
  • dry mouth
  • mild pain in the stomach
  • feeling tired
  • loss of appetite

In about one third of cases of mumps, there are no noticeable symptoms.

When should I see a doctor?

You should see your doctor, or take your child to the doctor, if you suspect mumps. It's a notifiable disease which means the Australian Government monitors cases to ensure public health safety.

To protect others, children with mumps should not go to child-care, preschool or school until at least 9 days after their swelling started. Here’s a list of common childhood illnesses, including mumps, and their recommended exclusion periods.

It's very important to see a doctor if, as well as swollen glands, you or your child:

  • has a stomach ache and is being sick
  • if male, shows signs of swollen, tender testes
  • complains of a severe headache
  • becomes drowsy
  • starts vomiting and cannot stand bright light
  • has a rash of small purple or red spots or bruises

If the symptoms don't improve after 7 days, or they suddenly worsen, contact your doctor for further advice.

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What causes mumps?

Mumps is caused by the mumps virus and is spread through close contact or by coughing and sneezing.

If you get mumps, the virus will move from your respiratory tract (your nose, mouth and throat) into your parotid glands, where it begins to reproduce. This causes inflammation and swelling of the glands.

Less frequently, the virus enters the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is the fluid that surrounds and protects your brain and spine. Once the virus has entered the CSF, it can spread to other parts of your body, such as your brain, pancreas, testes (in boys and men) or ovaries (in girls and women).

How is mumps diagnosed?

Your doctor will check your face for swelling and may do a swab test from your throat or blood test to confirm mumps.

How is mumps treated?

There is no specific treatment for mumps. Treatment is focused on relieving symptoms until the body's immune system manages to fight off the infection.

If you or your child has mumps, these self-care tips can help:

  • get plenty of bed rest until the symptoms have passed
  • over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, can relieve pain (children aged 16 or under should not be given aspirin)
  • drink plenty of fluids, but avoid acidic drinks such as fruit juice because these can irritate the parotid glands — water is usually the best fluid to drink
  • applying a cold compress to your swollen glands can help to reduce the pain
  • eat foods that don't require a lot of chewing, such as soup, mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs

Can mumps be prevented?

In Australia, children are immunised against mumps. The vaccine is given in combination with the measles and rubella vaccine. This is known as the 'MMR' vaccine.

Your child will receive the first immunisation dose of MMR at 12 months and a second dose at 18 months (MMRV). Immunising your child with these 2 doses gives them immunity against mumps in more than 9 10 cases.

Visit the Department of Health website to see the National Immunisation Program Schedule.

If you weren’t vaccinated against mumps as a child, or if you’re not sure whether you have been vaccinated, talk to your doctor about whether you need a catch-up vaccination.

The mumps vaccine

Vaccination is your best protection against mumps. This table explains how the vaccine is given, who should get it, and whether it is on the National Immunisation Program Schedule. Some diseases can be prevented with different vaccines, so talk to your doctor about which one is appropriate for you.

What age is it recommended? At 12 months and 18 months.Anyone older who has not had 2 doses of the vaccine previously.
How many doses are required? 2
How is it administered? Injection
Is it free? Free for children at 12 and 18 months, and at 4 if they didn’t receive both doses.Free for people under 20 years old, refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age.For everyone else, there is a cost for this vaccine.Find out more on the Department of Health website and the National Immunisation Program Schedule, and ask your doctor if you are eligible for additional free vaccines your situation or location.
Common side effects The vaccine is very safe. Possible side effects include fever, rash and feeling unwell.

Are there any complications of mumps?

Most people get better on their own and the face returns to its normal size in about a week.

But in rare cases, mumps can be a serious disease. Complications of mumps can include:

  • inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). About 1 in 200 children with mumps will develop brain inflammation
  • inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
  • inflammation of the heart (myocarditis)
  • infertility (not being able to have children)
  • nerve damage, leading to deafness
  • miscarriage in women who are in the first 3 months of pregnancy

People with serious disease may need to go to hospital.

Last reviewed: August 2019


When to see your GP

It's important to contact your GP if you suspect mumps so a diagnosis can be made. While mumps isn't usually serious, the condition has similar symptoms to more serious types of infection, such as glandular fever and tonsillitis.

Your GP can usually make a diagnosis after seeing and feeling the swelling, looking at the position of the tonsils in the mouth and checking the person's temperature to see if it's higher than normal.

Let your GP know in advance if you're coming to the surgery, so they can take any necessary precautions to prevent the spread of infection.

If your GP suspects mumps, they should notify your local health protection unit (HPU). The HPU will arrange for a sample of saliva to be tested to confirm or rule out the diagnosis.

Who is affected

Most cases of mumps occur in people between 17 and 34 years of age who have not received 2 doses of the MMR vaccine. There were 534 confirmed mumps cases of mumps in Scotland between 1 January and 30 September 2019.

Once you've been infected by the mumps virus, you normally develop a life-long immunity to further infection.

How mumps is spread

Mumps is spread in the same way as colds and flu – through infected droplets of saliva that can be inhaled or picked up from surfaces and transferred into the mouth or nose.  

A person is most contagious a few days before the symptoms develop and for a few days afterwards.

During this time, it's important to prevent the infection spreading to others, particularly teenagers and young adults who haven't been vaccinated.

If you have mumps, you can help prevent it spreading by:

  • regularly washing your hands with soap
  • using and disposing of tissues when you sneeze
  • avoiding school or work for at least five days after your symptoms first develop

Preventing mumps

You can protect your child against mumps by making sure they're given the combined MMR vaccine (for mumps, measles and rubella). The MMR vaccine is part of the routine NHS childhood immunisation schedule. 

Your child should be given one dose when they are around 12-13 months and a second booster dose before they start school. Your child needs to get 2 doses of the vaccine to provide the best protection against mumps.

Treatment for mumps

There's currently no cure for mumps, but the infection should pass within one or two weeks.

Treatment is used to relieve symptoms and includes:

  • getting plenty of bed rest and fluids
  • using painkillers, such as ibuprofen and paracetamol – aspirin shouldn't be given to children under 16
  • applying a warm or cool compress to the swollen glands to help relieve pain

Read more about treating mumps