What is Mumps?
Before the introduction of the vaccination, Mumps was a common childhood illness that affected up to 200,000 people in the United States each year. While the prevalence of the illness has drastically decreased, mumps still occurs, especially in third world countries, and tends to come in waves or epidemics where a number of people are affected over a short period of time.
Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the salivary glands causing them to become inflamed, resulting in the characteristic "chipmunk cheeks" that are commonly associated with the illness.
As with most childhood illnesses, mumps is usually a fairly mild illness in children and tends to be far worse if contracted in adulthood. Adults are also more likely to develop complications such as infertility deafness, or to suffer a miscarriage. Although mumps can cause some serious consequences, most children recover swiftly without complications with in 10 -12 days.
If you suspect that you or your child may have mumps it’s important to see a health care professional. Your doctor will perform an examination and ask for a full description of the symptoms. He may also recommend blood tests or a viral culture to confirm a diagnosis.
The most characteristic symptom of mumps is the swelling of the parotid glands; commonly know as the salivary glands which are found towards the back of each cheek, in the area between the ear and jaw. This swelling can either be unilateral or bilateral. Other common symptoms include:
Mumps can also lead to a number of complications. While these complications are not very common, it is important for parents to closely monitor children with mumps and call the doctor should complications arise or a very high fever develops. Complications tend to be more common in cases of adult mumps. Complications include:
- Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
- Meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord)
- Orchitis (inflammation of the testes) which in rare cases can lead to male infertility.
- Inflammation of the ovaries which may lead to female infertility.
- Inflammation of the pancreas
- Hearing loss
What causes Mumps?
Like measles, mumps is caused by a paramyxovirus which is easily spread from person to person through saliva droplets. These droplets can be breathed in after an infected individual sneezes coughs, yawns or the saliva can be transferred to objects such as eating utensils or cups.
Because mumps is as contagious as the flu, it is important to stay in bed and avoid contact with others to prevent the spreading of the disease. People with mumps are usually most contagious from 2 days before symptoms begin until 6 days after they end.
Help for Mumps
Because mumps is caused by a virus, it cannot be treated with antibiotics, and so the best treatment is a combination of bed rest, symptom relief and naturally boosting the immune system as it is this that will eventually fight off the virus. Parents should monitor their child’s fever and watch out for any complications that may develop.
Your doctor may recommend some over-the-counter medications to help relieve symptoms such as high fever or sore throat, however it is always advisable to research all side-effects and precautions of any synthetic medications as many come with side-effects. Aspirin in particular should not be given to children during a viral infection as complications such as Reye Syndrome have been documented.
Natural Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies related to Mumps
Mumps is one of those illnesses you have to let run its course. Eventually your immune system System" will nurse your body back to health. While there is little your doctor can do to help, there are natural ways to boost the immune system thus encouraging faster recovery and fewer complications.
Herbal and homeopathic remedies have long been known for their immune boosting qualities and herbal ingredients such as Echinacea purpurea, Astragalus membranaceous, Inula helenium and Withania somnifera, can naturally support the body’s own defense mechanisms.
These herbs are thus commonly used to strengthen and assist the immune system to promote faster recovery and are well known for their antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties, making Mother Nature the best nurturing force to restore the body’s natural balance and health.
Tips caring for your child with Mumps
- ed rest is the best treatment for anyone with mumps so it’s important to keep your child in bed until the fever subsides. Plan a few fun activities such as videos, books and puzzles so your child doesn’t get too bored or frustrated – as kids tend to struggle with concentration and attention span.
- Use a warm moist or cool towel over your child’s neck to soothe the pain of swollen glands.
- Keep your child isolated from friends and family members to prevent the spreading of the disease.
- Prepare enticing foods that provide good nutrition and promote an increase in appetite so that your child will enjoy eating and get the nutrients they need to recover. Soft foods and foods that do not require too much chewing such as soup or mashed potatoes will be easier for your child to eat.
- Make sure your child gets plenty of fluids. Regular cool drinks will also help ease the pain of a sore throat.
- Avoid sour foods or citrus drinks as these stimulate the salivary glands.
- Monitor your child closely for any signs of complications such as pain and swelling of the testes, abdominal pain, and high fever.
More Information on Mumps
Mumps is preventable with the use of vaccination. Most children are inoculated against the illness as a part of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) injection – with many kids getting a booster shot when they start school. There is a great deal of controversy and contradictory scientific evidence surrounding vaccinations and so it is important to research the facts and make an informed choice as to what is the best option for your child’s health.