How Mumps Is Treated

Mumps is a viral infection that does not respond to any specific antiviral treatment. The infection usually improves on its own, although, sometimes, complications can occur.

During the time when you are sick with the infection, supportive treatment and medical treatment can be used to relive the symptoms of a mild mumps infection. If you develop a severe mumps infection, or if you have complications, you are more likely to need medical management of your illness.

Home Remedies 

If you or your child has mumps, you might not need hospitalization. With most cases of mumps, the illness and recovery period will be at home. During the illness and recovery, there are several things you can do for comfort.

  • Rest: If you or your child has mumps, the infection can make you feel tired and worn out. It is best to rest during the time that you have the infection and while you recover from the infection. 
  • Fluids: Mumps, like many infections, can make you dehydrated. Often, this dehydration can be exacerbated because you may not feel like eating and drinking. It is important to take in some fluids, even if you try to drink small amounts frequently, so that you can stay hydrated. 
  • Face and neck comfort: When your glands are swollen you may feel some pain or discomfort in the lower face and neck. Applying soft blankets and avoiding pressure on the swollen areas can help maintain your comfort.
  • Cold packs for soreness: If you feel relief from muscle aches or swollen glands by applying something cold to the area, you can consider getting a cold pack and applying to the sore and tender areas around your muscles or around your swollen glands.
  • Warm blankets: When you have a mumps infection you may feel cold and you might feel more comfortable when you keep your body warm. You may also feel these extremes as you're recovering.
  • Protect others: If you have mumps you may be contagious. Unfortunately, you might be contagious even before you become sick. However, if you know that you have the infection, you should stay away from close contact with others. Do not share utensils and other items that may carry the virus. This is especially important if you are around very young babies who have not yet been immunized or if you are around a person who has a weak immune system, even if that person was immunized.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Most of the symptoms of mumps can be managed with over-the-counter medications for pain and fever.

  • Medications for fever: There are a number of commonly used OTC non-steroidal medications that can reduce your fever, including acetaminophen, naproxen, and ibuprofen. Use these according to package instructions and check with your doctor if they do not adequately reduce your fever.
  • Pain medications: Several of the medications that reduce your fever are also effective for reducing pain. You can use over-the-counter pain medication if you have muscle pain or pain from your swollen parotid glands.

Prescriptions 

There are no prescription medications that can specifically treat mumps when you become sick with the infection. However, mumps infection is preventable with a vaccine. 

The vaccine given for mumps is a live virus vaccine, which means that it stimulates immunity when the weakened virus is injected into the body. The standard recommended schedule for mumps vaccine is twice during the early years of life, the first time between ages 12 to 15 months and the second time between ages 4 to 6 years.

Mumps vaccine is typically given as part of the MMR vaccine, which includes measles, mumps, and rubella. It provides between 88 percent to 93 percent immunity in healthy children.

Specialist Driven Procedures 

Surgery is not a typical part of mumps treatment. However, if you have complications such as pancreatitis, meningitis, or orchitis you may need to have a diagnostic test such as an X-ray or a CT scan to guide your medical team in managing your complications. Other procedures may include a biopsy and abscess drainage.

Biopsy

It is rare for mumps to cause swelling that is not recognizable as an infection. However, if there is any concern that you could have swelling that is caused by something more serious than mumps, such as a cancerous growth, there is a chance that your doctors may perform a diagnostic biopsy. It involves removal of tissue, typically for a detailed evaluation under a microscope.

Abscess Drainage

An abscess, which is a confined area of pus, can result from mumps infection, although it is very uncommon. If you develop an abscess, your doctors may need to drain it because it can be difficult to treat with medication.

Draining an abscess is generally an uncomplicated procedure. It may require local anesthesia to numb the area for pain reduction. Your doctors would then make an incision in the infected area and allow the infected pus to drain. Then the area will be cleansed. Depending on the size of the abscess and the incision you may or may not need stitches.

Complementary Medicine (CAM)

Complementary and alternative treatments have been shown to be helpful for a number of different medical illnesses. Alternative treatments, in particular, can reduce discomfort.

Several alternative treatments have been specifically evaluated for the treatment of mumps, and, at this time, they have not appeared to show promising results.

Herbal Remedies

There have been a number of research studies looking at the possible effectiveness of herbal remedies for mumps. A recent research study specifically evaluated a large group of studies to evaluate the overall evidence of herbal treatments for mumps. The researchers found that they could not verify that any specific herb is effective in treating mumps or in relieving the swelling of the parotid glands.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture treatment often reduces pain, discomfort, and other symptoms of other illnesses. Acupuncture, similarly, has been studied for mumps. Research studies do not currently point to any definitive evidence showing that acupuncture is useful for preventing mumps, for treating the infection once it has started, or for relieving symptoms of the infection.

View Article Sources
  • He J, Jia P, Zheng M, Zhang M, Jiang H. Acupuncture for mumps in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Feb 2;(2):CD008400. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008400.pub3.
  • Kim JS, Oh JS, Kwon SH, Kim MS, Yoon YJ. Mumps Presenting as a Parotid Abscess. J Craniofac Surg. 2016 May;27(3):e233-5. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000002434.
  • Shu M, Zhang YQ, Li Z. et al. Chinese medicinal herbs for mumps. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Apr 18;(4):CD008578. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008578.pub3.