How Long Does Mumps Last

Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the salivary glands, resulting in swelling and tenderness. It is highly contagious and can spread easily through respiratory droplets from infected individuals. In South Africa, like in many other parts of the world, mumps is a concern due to its potential complications and impact on public health. This article aims to provide South African readers with valuable information on the duration of mumps, its symptoms, treatment, and preventive measures.

What is Mumps?

Mumps is caused by the mumps virus, which belongs to the paramyxovirus family. It primarily affects the parotid salivary glands located on the sides of the face, leading to swelling and pain. The virus can also target other salivary glands, the testes, ovaries, pancreas, and central nervous system, resulting in additional complications.

Symptoms of Mumps

Mumps symptoms typically appear 14-25 days after exposure to the virus. The most common symptoms include:

  • Swelling and tenderness of the parotid glands
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
How Long Does Mumps Last

Duration of Mumps

The duration of mumps can vary from person to person. Generally, the illness lasts about 7-10 days. However, the swelling and tenderness of the salivary glands may persist for up to two weeks or more. It is essential to rest, stay hydrated, and take appropriate measures to manage the symptoms during this period.

Treatment for Mumps

Currently, no specific antiviral treatment exists for mumps. However, supportive care can help alleviate the symptoms. Here are some suggestions:

  • Rest and get plenty of sleep
  • Drink fluids and stay hydrated
  • Apply warm or cold compresses to the swollen glands
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to reduce pain and fever

Complications of Mumps

Although most individuals recover from mumps without complications, it can lead to various health issues:

  • Inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males, which can affect fertility
  • Inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) or breasts (mastitis) in females
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord)
  • Hearing loss (rare)

Prevention of Mumps

Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to prevent mumps. In South Africa, the mumps vaccine is included in the routine childhood immunization schedule. Additionally, practicing good hygiene and avoiding close contact with infected individuals can help reduce the risk of mumps transmission.


Mumps is a viral infection that affects the salivary glands, leading to swelling and tenderness. Although the illness typically lasts 7-10 days, the symptoms can persist for up to two weeks or more. Supportive care, including rest, hydration, and pain relievers, can help manage the symptoms. Vaccination and practicing good hygiene are essential preventive measures. If you suspect mumps, consult a healthcare professional for diagnosis and appropriate guidance.