If your doctor suspects that you or your child has mumps, a virus culture or a blood test may be needed. Your immune system normally makes antibodies to help you fight an infection. So if you have mumps, the blood test can detect the antibodies in your system that are fighting the mumps virus.


Because mumps is caused by a virus, antibiotics aren't effective. Fortunately, most children and adults recover from an uncomplicated case of mumps within about two weeks.

As a general rule, you're no longer considered contagious and may safely return to work or school one week after a diagnosis of mumps.

Lifestyle and home remedies

If you or your child has mumps, time and rest are the best treatments. There's little your doctor can do to speed recovery. But you can take some steps to ease pain and discomfort and keep others from becoming infected.

  • Rest in bed until the fever goes away.
  • Isolate yourself or your child to prevent spreading the disease to others. Someone with mumps may be contagious up to a week after the onset of signs and symptoms.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to ease symptoms. Adults may also use aspirin.

    Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Children and teenagers recovering from flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.

  • Use a warm or cold compress to ease the pain of swollen glands.
  • Wear an athletic supporter and use cold compresses to ease the pain of tender testicles.
  • Avoid foods that require lots of chewing. Instead, try broth-based soups or soft foods, such as mashed potatoes or cooked oatmeal, for nourishment.
  • Avoid sour foods, such as citrus fruits or juices, which stimulate saliva production.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.

If your child has mumps, watch for complications. Call your doctor if your child develops:

  • Fever of 103 F (39 C) or greater
  • Trouble eating or drinking
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Abdominal pain
  • In boys, pain and swelling of the testicles

Preparing for your appointment

Call your family doctor if you or your child has signs and symptoms common to mumps. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

Information to gather in advance

  • Pre-appointment restrictions. Ask if there are any restrictions you or your child should follow before the appointment, such as staying isolated from others so as not to spread infection.
  • Symptom history. Write down any symptoms you or your child has had, and for how long.
  • Recent exposure to possible sources of infection. Try to remember if you or your child has been exposed to someone with mumps signs and symptoms in the last few weeks.
  • Key medical information. Include any other health problems and the names of any medications, supplements and vitamins you or your child is taking.
  • Questions to ask your doctor. Write down your questions so you can make the most of your time with your doctor.

Questions to ask your doctor about mumps include:

  • What is the most likely cause of these signs and symptoms?
  • Are there other possible causes?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend?
  • How soon should symptoms improve?
  • Are there any home remedies or self-care steps that could help relieve symptoms?
  • Am I or is my child contagious? For how long?
  • What steps should we take to reduce the risk of infecting others?

Don't hesitate to ask any other questions you have about your or your child's condition.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • What signs and symptoms have you noticed?
  • When did you first notice these signs and symptoms?
  • Have these signs and symptoms gotten worse over time?
  • Do symptoms include abdominal pain or, in males, testicular pain?
  • Has anyone else you know had signs and symptoms common to mumps within the last few weeks?
  • Are you and your child current on your vaccinations?
  • Are you or your child currently being treated or have you recently been treated for any other medical conditions?
  • What medications are you or your child currently taking, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs as well as vitamins and supplements?
  • Is your child in school or child care?
  • Are you pregnant or breast-feeding?

What you can do in the meantime

While you wait for your appointment, you may be able to ease symptoms with cold compresses and over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). However, don't give aspirin to a child who has a viral illness because aspirin has been associated with the development of Reye's syndrome, which can be serious.

Rest as much as possible, and avoid contact with others until you've seen the doctor. Mumps is highly contagious within about the first week after symptoms first appear.

Aug. 12, 2015
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