Mumps is a contagious disease that occurs most frequently in children and young people between the ages of five and fifteen years of age. Babies are usually immune. Most people have mumps only once their lives, but one person in ten may have a second attack. This disease is caused by a virus which attacks the salivary gland of the mouth, particularly the parotid gland located on each side of the face below and in front of the ear. After a young person is exposed to a case of mumps it takes about two weeks before he comes down with the disease.
Usually there is a pain on chewing and swallowing, often made worse by swallowing acid liquids, such as vinegar and lemon juice. Painful swellings develop at the sides of the face and below the ears. Glands under the chin may also become enlarge and swollen, and there may be a slight fever. The swelling last from two to three days and often generally goes down.
Mumps is usually a mild disease in younger children. During adolescence it is often more severe. Teen-age boys may also have the disease in the testicle. This is painful and may result in sterility in later life. A far more serious complication occurs when the mumps virus attacks the brain and nervous system, causing menighoencephalitis.
Keep the patient in bed for days until the temperature returns to normal. Local application of heat or an ice bag over the affected area will help to relieve some of the discomfort. Use a good cleansing mouthwash to keep the membranes clean. Be sure the patient has plenty of fluids, and preferaly a soft diet. Soft food eliminate the need for chewing and reduces pain.
When older boys contract mumps they should be given 20 cc. gamma blobulin to protect them against testicular inflammation. Hydrocortisone is also useful in reducing inflammation in the more sever cases. Mumps vaccine may be of some value in protecting men who have not had the disease during childhood, but this is not recommended for general use, for in young children the disease is usually very mild.