Mumps is an infection of the salivary glands. Sometimes it also affects the sub-mandibular and sub-lingual glands too. It most often affects children, although many are now vaccinated for this disease. When mumps occur, these glands become swollen and sore.
First one gland in the throat will become swollen, with the opposite one becoming infected by the next day or so. They become very tender. The infection may spread to nearby glands over the next few days. A fever is common, usually hovering around 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Centigrade). The fever will last for 3 or 4 days. The jaws may feel stiff during this time and eating may be difficult and painful. The pulse may slow down. Other symptoms may include headache, earache, sore muscles, loss of appetite, light sensitivity, lethargy, upper abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, lower abdominal pain in women, or seizures.
Mumps are caused by the myxo virus. This is contagious, so it is more prevalent in schools or other situations where large groups are together frequently. It is transmitted primarily through infected saliva or urine. The saliva is capable of spreading the virus for six days before any swelling is seen and the infected individual may be contagious for up to two weeks after the onset of swelling. One infection with mumps usually makes a person immune to any future infections by this virus.
Mumps can spread to inflame the meninges, the brain, pancreas and gonads. Orchitis (inflammation of the testes) in males and oophoritis (inflammation of the ovaries) in females may occur in severe cases when the gonads become involved. Rare complications include bronchitis, arthritis, pericarditis, myocarditis, meningitis, encephalitis and nephritis.