Symptoms of mumps 

The symptoms of mumps usually develop 14 to 25 days after a person is infected with the mumps virus (the incubation period). The average incubation period is around 17 days.

Swelling of the parotid glands is the most common symptom of mumps. The parotid glands are a pair of glands responsible for producing saliva. They are located in either side of your face, just below your ears.

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

More general symptoms often develop a few days before the parotid glands swell. These can include:

  • headache
  • joint pain
  • feeling sick
  • dry mouth
  • mild abdominal pain
  • feeling tired
  • loss of appetite
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38°C (100.4°F), or above

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

When to seek medical advice

If you suspect that you or your child has mumps, it's important to call your GP.

While the infection is not usually serious, mumps has similar symptoms to other, more serious types of infection, such as glandular fever and tonsillitis. It's always best to visit your GP so that they can confirm (or rule out) a diagnosis of mumps.

It's also important to let your GP know in advance if you are coming to the surgery so they can take any necessary precautions to avoid the spread of infection.

Page last reviewed: 20/08/2013

Next review due: 20/08/2015