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Mumps can be a painful condition for your child. It is a highly contagious disease which can make your child feel tired. Mumps can be identified easily by the swelling on the sides of the jaw. However, since this disease is extremely rare, it is best to know all the aspects of it. This can help you be prepared and seek medical attention when appropriate.
What Is Mumps?
Mumps is caused by a virus and is highly contagious. It affects the salivary glands below the ear which is why the face appears swollen. The disease spreads through saliva and can affect many parts of the body. The cases of mumps have reduced significantly after the development of a vaccine against the disease. Mumps mostly affects children, though there are cases where adults have contracted the disease.
Mumps is primarily transferred via fluids from the mouth, nose, and throat. When an infected child speaks, sneezes or coughs, the disease can spread. The virus can survive on objects like door handles, cutlery, and toys which can then pass on to another child. The incubation period for the virus is two to three weeks and the disease itself can last for a week. It usually spreads very quickly at schools and day care centres.
Signs And Symptoms
Mumps affects the salivary glands which are located just under the ear near the jawline. This will cause swelling and will make swallowing food, sipping water, talking, and chewing painful and difficult.
Mumps can affect one or both salivary glands and the swelling could be on one side or on both sides of the jaw. However, the swelling only begins three days into the infection. There are other symptoms that you can keep a watch for:
- Swelling in the neck
- Still neck
- Low fever below 103 degrees
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
Parents must be vigilant and watch for the signs of mumps in toddlers.
How Mumps Spreads
Mumps is caused by an airborne virus that can spread from an infected person’s respiratory tract to another person’s salivary glands. This includes coughing, sneezing, and even talking! This virus is highly contagious and spreads quickly from child to child especially in environments such as schools or daycare centres.
Diagnosis & Test For Mumps In Kids
A doctor will evaluate your child’s glands and will ask for the history leading up to the swelling including the other symptoms linked to mumps. He/she will ask you to get blood tests, urine tests or cerebrospinal fluid tests to confirm the infection. The tests that your doctor may prescribe are:
- Serological or Antibody testing: This test checks for the presence of the IgG and IgM antibodies that are produced specifically when infected with mumps.
- Viral genetic testing or RT-PCR: If your child has a weak immune system and cannot produce antibodies, then this genetic test is the best option for a diagnosis.
Complications And Risks
There are many risks associated with mumps. Even though these are rare, it is best to be aware to ensure that you can take proper action. The complications associated with mumps in children are:
- Encephalitis: This can occur when the virus causing the mumps travels to the brain and causes an infection there. The condition can be life-threatening. Your child may experience sudden intense headaches, may lose consciousness or even have seizures. You must rush your child to the emergency room right away.
- Pancreatitis: This is the inflammation of the pancreas that could result in cysts formation, damage to tissues, and bleeding of some glands. The condition is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and upper abdominal pain.
- Orchitis: This condition occurs in males after they have crossed puberty. It is marked with the swelling of one or both testicles.
- Meningitis: If the virus travels to the nervous system and causes an inflammation of the membranes that protect the spinal cord and brain, it is said to be meningitis. The symptoms associated with this condition are headaches, sensitivity to light, fever, and muscle stiffness.
- Hearing loss: In very rare cases, the virus will affect the cochlea which is an integral part of the ear. Such a situation could result in loss of hearing and can sometimes be permanent.
Mumps can also cause an inflammation of the reproductive organs. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, do not hesitate to rush your child to the emergency room.
Treatment Of Mumps In A Child
There is no specific treatment for mumps. There are a few ways you can ensure that your child is comfortable as the infection runs its course:
This will only include acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce any fever your child may have.
- Isolate your child from other children. While this might be hard for your child, the disease is too contagious to allow any contact with other kids.
- You can use either a warm or cold compress on the swollen glands for some temporary relief. Do not use the compress for more than ten minutes at a time.
- Give your child easily chewable foods like porridge, khichdi, yogurt, and soup. This will make sure that your child gets the nourishment they need without hurting their jaws.
- This disease will make your child very tired. It is best to make sure that they stay in bed to recoup their strength.
- Ginger has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also an excellent pain reliever. You can either add this directly to your child’s food or you can make a paste from the root and apply it on the swollen area.
- Fenugreek seeds have the same properties that ginger does and can be used similarly to comfort the child.
- Black pepper powder should be mixed with water and applied as a paste. This will help to alleviate the swelling.
- Aloe Vera is well known for its antibiotic properties and will help with the swelling. It is one of the best home remedies for mumps in children. Peel off the outer layer of the leaf to expose the flesh. Sprinkle a small amount of turmeric on this and use as a bandage on the swelling.
- A paste of asparagus and fenugreek seeds on the swelling will help tremendously.
- Garlic paste applied on the swelling is a traditional approach to easing the pain.
- Neem leaves will not only reduce the swelling but will also help fight the virus. Make a paste with the leaves and some turmeric powder and apply on the swelling.
- Banyan tree leaves have the ability to fight viruses. Heat the leaves with ghee and use this as a bandage on the swelling.
How Long Will It Take To Cure Mumps?
Typically, a child will take ten to twelve days to recover from mumps. The swelling in the glands takes about a week to go down.
Once your child has contracted mumps, they will gain immunity to the disease and will not have to worry about it again. You could also choose to get them vaccinated against the disease.
- MMR Vaccine
- The MMR vaccine is for measles, mumps, and rubella. The first dose needs to be administered when your child is around 12 to 15 months of age.
- The second dose will be administered around the age of four and six or when they turn eleven.
- If taken in two doses, the vaccination offers a protection rate of 95%.
- A single dosage will be ineffective in a large outbreak in your child’s school or neighbourhood.
If your child is infected by mumps, you can take several precautions to ensure that the infection doesn’t spread to other children. This disease is airborne and is highly infectious for a few days.
- Ask your child to wash their hands carefully with soap several times a day. Since your child should be isolated, ensure they wash up every time they leave their room.
- Make sure that your child sneezes into tissues which must be properly disposed of. Give them a dustbin to throw the tissue in.
- Use a disinfectant to clean the surfaces that your child touches.
- Encourage your child to use a hand sanitizer.
- Do not allow members of your family to share utensils with your child.
When Should I Call The Doctor?
If your child gets enough rest and nutrition, they should recover on their own within a few days. However, if they develop the following symptoms you should get immediate help:
- A temperature higher than 103 degrees
- The fever lasts more than three days
- Your child has a seizure
- They develop abdominal pain that is intense
- Male children might have swollen testicles
- Your child has frequent bouts of vomiting
- Your child shows signs of dehydration
- Your child has a sudden and intense headache
Things To Remember About Mumps In Children
There are certain things you must keep in mind when it comes to mumps in children. These are:
- Mumps is a contagious viral disease that targets the salivary glands below the ears.
- It is spread through the fluids in the mouth, nose, and throat of an infected child when they cough, sneeze or talk.
- Mumps can be prevented with the MMR vaccine that also prevents measles and rubella. It provides 95% immunity.
- The most common symptoms include swelling of the jaw as well as pain with difficulty in swallowing, talking, and chewing.
- The treatment will be centred on providing comfort to the child. This will include fluids and rest.
- Children with mumps must be kept out of school and daycare to ensure that the infection doesn’t spread.
- When caring for your child infected with mumps, make sure that you wash your hands before and after.
- Ensure that they cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
Steps to take ahead:
When planning to visit your child’s doctor, you can take the following steps to ensure that you get the best consultation:
- Write down any questions you want answered.
- Make notes of the diagnosis, medications, and instructions your doctor might give you.
- Find out how the medications prescribed can help your child and what the possible side effects can be.
- You should also find out if there are any alternative therapies for the infection.
- Find out why a test is recommended and what the results of that test could mean.
- You must also ask about what the repercussions could be if the medication is not taken or if a test is not administered.
- Make sure that you note down any follow-up appointment your doctor might ask for. Knowing why it is important to keep this appointment is also crucial.
- Ask your doctor what is the best way to reach them after office hours. This is important in case of emergencies or if your child displays other more serious symptoms.
It is vital to understand the symptoms and causes of mumps before treating this condition. Medicines can have allergic responses in certain cases; keep in contact with your doctor during the time of the virus, and have them prescribe alternatives in case of either allergies or unavailability of the medication. Ensure your child continues to eat; their appetite may drop during the afflicted period. If you have more than one child, keep them at a safe distance or have them stay at a relative’s house to prevent them from being affected. We recommend the child has sufficient liquid intake during this time.
For a more thorough diagnosis when suspecting that your child may have mumps, consult a paediatric specialist. Ensure medicine dosage is followed according to prescriptions. Contact the parents of other children who may have come in contact with your child during the days leading up to a diagnosed case of the mumps, since the virus is contagious. Act quickly when diagnosed to ensure effective treatment.
Having a child who has mumps can be scary for the parent, but it is important to trust your physicians and not panic. The chances of a child recovering from mumps are very high if diagnosed and treated early.