Mumps - A contagious childhood virus that could have serious consequences to starting a family.
Mumps (parotitis) was a childhood contagious viral infection (Paramyxovirus) common in the late 1950/60s which is now fairly well controlled by the MMR vaccination programme in 1988. It still occurs in many third world countries and spasmodically in the western world.
It’s easily recognisable by the painful swellings located at the side of the face under the ears (the parotid glands), giving a person with mumps a distinctive (and to children humorous) "hamster face" appearance. Other symptoms include headache, joint pain and a high temperature.
It is a highly contagious virus affecting, as we said, the salivary glands, but occasionally the testicles. In young men it can cause infertility and cases should be referred immediately to a doctor. Normally it causes fever and painful swelling in the neck and there is no specific treatment other than pain killers and isolation.
A person is most contagious one to two days before the onset of symptoms, and for a further five days afterwards. Once you have been infected by mumps, you normally develop a life-long immunity to further infection, but in my case I caught a more mild form a few years later.
The only treatment is painkillers but I do remember my mother used to boil up tins of grey evil smelling Kaolin which was applied scalding hot onto a bandage and applied around my neck. I never knew if this had any therapeutic effect but it was a common treatment and offered some comfort as a hot poultice.
Steam inhalation of essential oils through an inexpensive inhaler can offer relief when fever is present with Ravensara and Manuka being the most powerful. Use as often as you feel relief.
Other anti-viral such as Eucalyptus, niaouli (or Ti-tree) Sweet Thyme, Lavender and Bergamot can be used in a fan or burner which may prevent the spread of the virus to the rest of the family and offer a calming effect.
Massage of the neck using Ravensara and/or Manuka together with Lavender blended into Sweet almond oil can offer some relief if fever is not present. You may wish to use Sesame Seed oil instead as it washes out of clothes and sheets more easily.
One of the complications of Mumps can be viral meningitis which can occur if the mumps virus spreads into the outer protective layer of the brain, known as the meninges. It’s fairly rare but does occur in one in seven cases of mumps. Unlike bacterial meningitis, which is potentially life-threatening, viral meningitis causes much milder, flu-like symptoms, and the risk of further serious complications are low. Sensitivity to light and vomiting can occur with viral meningitis, but the symptoms usually pass within 14 days.
Swollen testicle - Pain and swelling of the testicles (orchitis), will affect one in five of all males who get mumps after puberty. Treatment is by a cold compress and painkillers. One in ten males may experience a drop in their sperm count, but despite popular myth it is rarely enough to cause infertility.
Swelling of the ovaries - One in twenty females who gets mumps after puberty will experience swelling of the ovaries (Oophoritis), which can cause lower abdominal pain, high temperature and being sick. These symptoms usually pass once the body has recovered from the underlying mumps infection.
Pancreatitis - One in twenty cases of mumps can result in pancreatitis. The most common symptom is a sudden pain in the centre of your upper abdomen and can include nausea, diarrhoea, jaundice, loss of appetite and an increase in temperature.
Encephalitis - This is a rare but potentially serious complication of mumps which causes an infection of the brain itself. It occurs in around 1 in 1,000 cases and needs admission to an intensive care unit.
Permanent hearing loss - This, mercifully, is a very rare complication of mumps affecting around 1 in 20,000 cases and unfortunately there is currently no cure.
Colloidal silver - This is a natural antibiotic used in the treatment of mumps and has no side effects. This can be boosted with Olive leaf extract.
As we said it is not common in the Western world these days but with world-wide travel and increased immigration it is possible to catch with potentially serious consequences.
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© 2012 Peter Geekie