Symptoms and Signs of Mumps

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2021

Doctor's Notes on Mumps

Mumps is a viral disease, usually seen in children. The disease is more severe in adults. With mumps, your salivary glands (the parotid glands) located below and in front of each ear, swell. The virus is spread by direct contact with an infected person's sneeze or cough. With nearly universal immunization in childhood, there are fewer than 1,000 cases of mumps in the U.S. in a typical year. 

Early symptoms of the mumps are uncommon and may include fever, loss of appetite, achiness, and headache. Temperature is moderately high, usually lasting for three to four days. Once the illness progresses, swelling of the glands under and in front of the ear usually starts on one side and then progresses to the other side rapidly. Swelling may last from seven to 10 days. Eating or drinking acidic or citric foods causes discomfort.

Other symptoms of the mumps may include

What Is the Treatment for the Mumps?

There are currently no medications available to treat the mumps virus so the treatment is focused on relieving symptoms until the body’s immune system fights off the infection. Antibiotics do not help. There is a vaccine available to prevent mumps that is usually given during childhood, with a booster given in adolescence. The mumps infection usually passes within a week to 10 days. Symptomatic home care is all that is usually needed.

Home treatment for the mumps includes:

If symptoms suddenly worsen with trouble breathing or swallowing, or shortness of breath, seek medical care.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.