Mumps is a viral infection spread by respiratory droplets. The incubation period is 14 – 25 days. Mumps is usually a self limiting condition that lasts around 1 week. Management is supportive, and involves treating the complications if they occur.

Taking a vaccination history is essential when considering a diagnosis of mumps. The MMR vaccine offers around 80% protection against mumps.



Patients experience an initial period of flu-like symptoms known as the prodrome. These occur a few days before the parotid swelling:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth

Parotid gland swelling, either unilateral or bilateral, with associated pain is the key feature that should make you consider mumps.

It can also present with symptoms of the complications, such as:

  • Abdominal pain (pancreatitis)
  • Testicular pain and swelling (orchitis)
  • Confusion, neck stiffness and headache (meningitis or encephalitis)



The diagnosis can be confirmed using PCR testing on a saliva swab. The blood or saliva can also be tested for antibodies to the mumps virus.

Mumps is a notifiable disease, meaning you need to notify public health of any suspected and confirmed cases.

Management is supportive, with rest, fluids and analgesia. Mumps is a self limiting condition. Management of complications is also mostly supportive.



  • Pancreatitis
  • Orchitis
  • Meningitis
  • Sensorineural hearing loss


Last updated January 2020
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