Alternative names
Epidemic parotitis

Mumps is an acute, contagious, viral disease that causes painful enlargement of the salivary or parotid glands.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The mumps are caused by a virus which is spread from person-to-person by respiratory droplets or direct contact with articles that have been contaminated with infected saliva.

The parotid glands (the salivary glands between the ear and the jaw) are often swollen. Unvaccinated children between the ages of 2 and 12 are most commonly infected, but the infection can occur in other age groups.

Other organs may be involved, including the testes, the central nervous system, and the pancreas. The incubation period is usually 12 to 24 days.


  • face pain  
  • swelling of the parotid glands  
  • fever  
  • headache  
  • sore throat  
  • swelling of the temples or jaw (temporomandibular area)

Additional symptoms in males that may be associated with this disease:

  • testicle pain  
  • testicle lump  
  • scrotal swelling

Signs and tests
A physical examination confirms the presence of the swollen glands. No testing is usually required.

There is no specific treatment for mumps. Symptoms may be relieved by the application of intermittent ice or heat to the affected neck area and/or acetaminophen for pain relief (do not give aspirin to children with a viral illness because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome). Warm salt water gargles, soft foods, and extra fluids may also help relieve symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis)
The probable outcome is good, even if other organs are involved. After the illness, life-long immunity to mumps occurs.


  • infection of other organ systems

Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you or your child has mumps and severe headache, persistent drowsiness, eye redness, or persistent vomiting or abdominal pain develops.

Call your health care provider if testicle pain or testicle lump occurs.

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if convulsions occur.


MMR immunization (vaccine) protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. It should be given to children 12-15 months old. Vaccination is repeated between 4 to 6 years of age, or between 11 and 12 years of age, if not previously given. See also immunizations - general overview.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 8, 2012
by Brenda A. Kuper, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.