Mumps disease is a very contagious viral infection that both children and adults can get. It is not treated but healed by itself. A vaccine against mumps is part of the vaccination program for children since 1982 and the disease is very rare in many countries. Mumps can, in unusual cases, lead to meningitis or testicular inflammation.

Mumps disease is also called parotitis.

Symptoms of mumps

Only about half of those infected with mumps get symptoms.

If you get symptoms of mumps you may get

  • headache
  • fever
  • tiredness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • swelling and tenderness at the back of the lower jaw, in front of the ear
  • hurt when you chew.

After a few days, the fever often rises to 39.0 to 40.0 degrees Celsius. The fever usually drops one to two days later.

If you become swollen and sore at the back of the lower jaw, it is because the salivary glands become swollen. The salivary glands are located just in front of and under the ears, at the jaw angle. The swelling is often visible on the outside of the neck and can look like a bag. The swelling often begins on one side of the neck, but then almost always spreads to both sides.

The glands under the tongue can also become swollen. Then you will have a hard time gapping.

The throat may swell for other reasons

There are other viruses that can also cause swollen salivary glands, both in children and adults. If you or your child get swollen glands even though you have been vaccinated against mumps, it is probably due to another virus. Then the symptoms are often milder. The other viruses also do not cause the sequelae that can come after mumps.

When should I seek care?

Although there is no treatment for mumps disease, you should contact a health care center if you or your child have come into contact with the infection. This also applies if you or the child have a fever together with swollen and tender mock glands, in the jaw angles.

Seek medical attention immediately at a health center or emergency room if you as an adult or child have a fever along with any of the following symptoms of mumps:

  • Stiffness in the neck or severe headache.
  • Very sore stomach.
  • Swollen testicles.

They may be signs that you have sequelae.

Mumps disease must be reported

Mumps disease is a so-called notifiable and infectious traceable disease.  This means that the doctor who meets a patient who has the disease must notify the Public Health Authority and the county council’s responsible infection control physician. This is done so that the authorities can check whether the vaccine provides good protection to the population.

The disease is also subject to infection detection. The purpose of tracking how a person has become infected is to find out who others are infected and to prevent the spread of the disease.

The number of cases of mumps disease has decreased in recent years. About 25-30 people are reported to have mumps every year. Most are young adults, between the ages of 20 and 30. One third are children up to 18 years.

This is how mumps infect

Mumps is very contagious. The virus infects through small droplets in the exhaled air. The infection spreads if someone sneezes or if you put on a handle where the drops are located and then rub you in the eyes, nose or put your fingers in your mouth. As soon as the drops have dried in, they no longer become infected.

Mumps infect for a couple of weeks

It usually takes between two to three weeks from being infected until you get sick. But it can vary between 12 to 25 days. You are contagious from up to six days before the swelling comes and up to nine days after the swelling has appeared.

Only half of all those who get mumps get symptoms. So if you are not vaccinated you may be infected without knowing it. Even if you do not get any symptoms yourself, you can infect others as long as you had symptoms.

You can only get mumps at one point in life. Then you become immune.

Vaccine against mumps

The vaccine against mumps is included in the vaccination program for children in many countries since 1982. Therefore, very few people become infected. The reason for vaccinating against mumps disease is that it can lead to concomitant diseases such as testicular inflammation and meningitis. They can be serious, but it is unusual.

Children receive the first dose of the vaccine when they are 18 months. It is given in the same syringe as a vaccine against rubella and measles. Even as an adult, you can vaccinate yourself if you haven’t done it as a child.

The vaccine provides very good protection against the disease. It contains a live virus, which is weakened. Some children may have a slight fever afterward. Swelling or rash can also be seen on the arm where the child received the syringe. The side effects usually go away after a few days.

In very rare cases, children can get mumps despite being vaccinated.


If the doctor suspects that you or your child has been infected with mumps, a blood test is taken. The test shows whether the virus or antibodies to the virus are present in the blood. After a few weeks, a new blood test is taken, so that the doctor can safely diagnose mumps.

Treatment of mumps

Mumps disease is caused by a virus. Therefore, treating the disease with antibiotics does not help. The disease usually goes away by itself after about a week’s rest.

Give medicines for fever and pain if needed

Fever is the body’s response to the infection and a way for the body to defend itself against virus attacks. If a child is very tired due to a high fever or is in pain, you can give non-prescription medicines with acetaminophens, such as Alvedon or Panodil. It can be given from three months of age.

Always consult the healthcare provider before giving a child under six months of medication. From the age of six months, children can receive medicines containing the active substance ibuprofen, which is found in, for example, Ipren or Ibuprofen. They are available in liquid form and as suppositories for young children. For older children, they are in tablet form.

Follow the instructions on the package carefully and do not combine different medicines.

Avoid giving certain medicines

Children up to 18 years of age should not use medicines containing acetylsalicylic acid without first talking to a doctor. It is found in drugs such as Treo, Albyl, and Bamyl. There is a risk of Reye’s disease. It is an unusual disease that can lead to serious brain damage, among other things.

Unusual sequelae

Mumps can, in unusual cases, lead to sequelae. This is true even if you have been ill without any symptoms of mumps, but even that is unusual. The virus can spread to other glands in the body, or to the meninges. It is more likely that mumps causes a sequela the older you are when you become infected.


In rare cases, mumps disease can lead to meningitis or inflammation of the brain. The diseases are usually mild but can be serious. If you start to feel worse four to six days after the salivary glands have swollen, it may be a sign of meningitis or inflammation of the brain.


If you, as a man, get mumps after puberty, it can in rare cases lead to testicular inflammation. Usually, only one side is inflamed. In very rare cases it can lead to sterility.


In rare cases, mumps disease can lead to acute pancreatitis 

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