Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. There is no cure for mumps, and it can cause long-term health problems. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine helps protect against mumps.
Mumps typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Then most people will have swelling of their salivary glands, which what causes puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw.
Complications of mumps can include:
- inflammation of the testicles, which may lead to a decrease in testicular size
- inflammation of the ovaries or breast tissue
- inflammation in the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
- inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
Neither inflammation of the testicles nor inflammation of the ovaries caused by mumps has been shown to lead to infertility.
The mumps vaccine is the best way to protect against mumps. Children should get two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine:
- the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age
- the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age
The mumps vaccine is safe and effective. Most children don’t have any side effects from the vaccine. The side effects that do occur are usually very mild, such as a fever or rash.
There is also an MMRV vaccine, a combination vaccine that protects against four diseases: measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox). Talk to a healthcare professional for help deciding which vaccine to use.