Overview

Mumps is a contagious viral infection that used to be common in children before the introduction of the MMR vaccine.

Overview

Mumps is a contagious viral infection that used to be common in children before the introduction of the MMR vaccine.

It’s most recognisable by the painful swellings at the side of the face under the ears (the parotid glands), giving a person with mumps a distinctive "hamster face" appearance.

Other symptoms of mumps include headaches, joint pain and a high temperature, which may develop a few days before the swelling of the parotid glands. 

When to see your GP

It's important to contact your GP if you suspect mumps so a diagnosis can be made. While mumps isn't usually serious, the condition has similar symptoms to more serious types of infection, such as glandular fever and tonsillitis.

Your GP can usually make a diagnosis after seeing and feeling the swelling, looking at the position of the tonsils in the mouth and checking the person's temperature to see if it's higher than normal.

Let your GP know in advance if you're coming to the surgery, so they can take any necessary precautions to prevent the spread of infection.

If your GP suspects mumps, they should notify your local health protection unit (HPU). The HPU will arrange for a sample of saliva to be tested to confirm or rule out the diagnosis.