Symptoms - Mumps

Mumps is an acute viral infection that is spread from person to person. The best protection against mumps is to be fully vaccinated with 2 doses of the MMR vaccine.

Symptoms of mumps

Symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, tiredness and swollen, tender salivary glands. These are usually the parotid gland which are just below the front of the ear.

Mumps often gives the appearance of swollen cheeks or jaw. It can give a person with mumps a distinctive "hamster face" appearance.

A healthy child and a child with mumps. The child with mumps has swollen cheeks.
A healthy child and a child with mumps

Both glands are usually affected by the swelling. Sometimes only one gland is affected. The swelling can cause pain, tenderness and difficulty with swallowing.

In about 1 in 3 cases, mumps doesn't cause any noticeable symptoms.

If you have symptoms you should stay at home, not go to school or work and phone your GP and explain that you may have mumps.

The mumps infection isn't usually serious. But mumps has similar symptoms to other, more serious infections. For example, glandular fever and tonsillitis. It's always best to visit your GP so they can confirm or rule out a diagnosis of mumps.

Prevent the spread of mumps

Tell your GP before you go to the surgery that you think you or your child may have mumps. This is so they can take any necessary precautions to avoid the spread of infection.


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 21 April 2020
Next review due: 21 April 2023

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