November 23, 2012 10:59 am
If you stuffed your cheeks full of marshmallows, you might look like you had the mumps. Mumps is an illness that makes glands in your neck swell up. The glands are the ones that make saliva (spit).
A mild fever, chills, sore throat, and a sick feeling in your stomach could be early signs of mumps. Once those glands in your neck start to swell, there is no doubt.
The swollen glands can hurt. It can be hard to chew or swallow. The swelling starts to go down after about a week. People with mumps are usually well after about 12 days.
Some cases of mumps are very mild. If you have a mild case of mumps, you may not even know it.
A tiny germ called a virus causes mumps. There are no good medicines for killing the mumps virus—or any other virus. Antibiotics don’t work against viruses.
If you get the mumps virus, you need to get lots of rest. You have to wait for your body to fight off the disease. You should stay away from other people if you have mumps so you don’t give them the disease. Once you get over mumps, you can never get it again.
Mumps is “catching.” You get mumps from someone else who has the disease. You can give mumps to other people. You can pass the germs along even if you only have a mild case.
Mumps spreads in drops of saliva. The drops can spread by coughing and sneezing.
Once you catch the germ you don’t get sick right away. It takes 15 to 21 days for the signs of mumps to show up.
Children from ages five to nine are the ones most likely to get mumps. Sometimes grown-ups get the disease. Mumps can be more serious in grown-ups.
Chances are that you will never get mumps. Mumps was once a common childhood illness. Now mumps is pretty rare in countries such as the United States and Canada.
Mumps is rare because there is a mumps vaccine that keeps you from getting the disease. Doctors have been giving children the vaccine since 1967. You usually get it as shot, combined with vaccines for other diseases such as the measles. Before the vaccine, more than 200,000 kids in the United States came down with mumps each year. Now, only a few hundred kids and grown-ups catch the disease each year.

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