Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the parotid glands — one of three pairs of saliva-producing (salivary) glands, situated below and in front of your ears. If you or your child contracts mumps, it can cause swelling in one or both parotid glands. Mumps was common in the United States until mumps vaccination became routine. Since then, the number of cases has dropped dramatically, so your odds of getting mumps are low. Complications of mumps, such as hearing loss, are potentially serious, but rare. There’s no specific treatment for mumps. Mumps outbreaks still occur in the United States, and mumps is still common in many parts of the world, so getting a vaccination to prevent mumps remains important.
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 and may include:
- Swollen, painful salivary glands on one or both sides of your face (parotitis)
- Muscle aches
- Weakness and fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Pain while chewing or swallowing
The primary — and best known — sign of mumps is swollen salivary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out. In fact, the term “mumps” is an old expression for lumps or bumps within the cheeks.