Mumps is an infection caused by a virus and can lead to the saliva glands in the lower cheeks (parotid glands) to swell and puff out.
Once fairly common in the United States, the mumps virus is not frequently diagnosed today due to regular childhood vaccination schedules. Mumps mostly affects the parotid glands, which produce saliva and are located below and in front of the ears. When not treated, it can also lead to long term complications, like hearing loss.
The mumps virus is spread through contact with the saliva of an infected person. This means that a child can contract the virus by being in close proximity to someone who sneezes or coughs, or sharing a drink or eating utensils with that person.
In many cases, a child with mumps will show no to very little symptoms. When they do appear, the signs and symptoms of mumps can include:
- Aching in the muscles
- Decreased appetite
- Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- Pain while chewing or swallowing
- Swollen, painful glands on the sides of the face – known as parotitis – that cause the cheeks to puff out