Mumps is caused because of infection with a virus known as mumps virus. It is transmitted from one person to another and on getting infected with the virus it multiplies in the nose, throat, and lymph glands in the neck. The symptoms in general appear about 16 to 18 days after getting infected with the virus. However everyone infected with the virus does not develop symptoms of mumps. According to research as many as 20 percent of people infected with the mumps virus do not develop any symptoms. Besides this, about 50% of people infected with the virus may not develop the classic symptoms. These people have symptoms similar to upper respiratory tract infection, such as common cold.
Early Symptoms of Mumps: Early symptoms of mumps may include symptoms such as fever (usually moderately high), loss of appetite, sore throat, body pain and lethargy, and headache. Fever can last for 3-4 days and it may be with or without chills. In some cases the early symptoms occur prior to the beginning of salivary gland swelling. But many people may not have the early symptoms and may present with salivary gland swelling (the characteristic symptom of mumps).
Salivary gland swelling: This is the characteristic symptom of mumps. It may be the first symptom in many cases. There are three main salivary gland but parotid salivary glands is affected most commonly. It is located within your cheek, near the jaw line, just below the ears on both the sides. Swelling of this salivary gland (parotid gland) is called parotitis. The swelling usually increases in the first few days (one to three days) and then gradually reduces after about one week. The swelling can be mild or severe and in severe cases it can extend from the ear to the chin and involve the neck. The ear is often pushed up in parotitis. The gland is warm and has pain on touch, and may be painful on eating, swallowing, and talking. Mumps may involve only one or both the parotid glands. In most cases salivary gland on both sides of the face are affected. Both the glands may be involved at the same time or in some cases swelling of one gland may start after the swelling on first side is decreasing.
Other symptoms of mumps: Mumps may affect only the salivary gland or in some cases it may affect other organs such as testes, pancreas, brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord, ovaries, breast. Other symptoms in these cases depends on the organ that is affected such as if there is inflammation of the testes (orchitis)—the testes become swollen and painful.