You are Never Too Old to Get Mumps
Mumps is probably one of the least cool infectious diseases a person can contract, primarily as an adult. Say the words “I have got mumps”, and people immediately picture you with huge cheeks, looking very much like a chipmunk about to offload its food stash.
My own mumps experience began in early July when I developed a painful swelling just beneath my left ear on a Monday evening. Initially, I thought it was a swollen gland, as I had been feeling unwell for about three weeks prior. None the less, on Tuesday morning I went off to practice seeking the opinion of my colleagues. “It is mumps,” said a colleague, “you had better go home”. I was thrown into a blind panic, firstly, for the wellbeing of everyone surrounding me and secondly, for my own. I phoned my mother and asked if I had had mumps as a child. “Uhm, no” she replied.
Later that day, while I was cooking dinner for myself and my fiancé, I was beginning to feel ill, so I skipped dinner, had a bath and climbed into bed. At 01h15 on Wednesday I woke up shivering; shaking so much that I could barely walk to my lounge to put on our heater. Initially, I took some remedies and Chinese herbals that a colleague had prepared for me and used Myprodol to relieve the pain and fever. I had somewhat of an appetite for that Wednesday and Thursday, although I only managed to drink soup that had been through a food processor. On Friday I started feeling severely fatigued and sore, so not even the soup was manageable. It was at this point that I started becoming hangry (angry due to hunger) as every attempt at putting something in my mouth created a strong, crunching pain in the left side of my face that deduced me to tears. By the following Wednesday, the swelling had begun to subside, and I was able to eat a little more than I had the previous few days, 6kg in weight loss.
On Thursday I went for blood tests to check the probability of me infecting others as I was desperate to get back to practice despite the fact of still feeling ill. The results came back indicating that it was unsafe and so I decided to go for another test on Saturday. I returned to work on Monday, 12 days after this ordeal.
Thankfully, my dalliance with mumps caused no long-term ill-effects. I did learn a lot from it though, mainly how to help my patients better. We, as doctors and as the human race in general, learn a lot when we experience something first hand.
What is Mumps?
Mumps, otherwise known as epidemic parotitis is a highly contagious disease caused by a viral infection of the salivary glands. Symptoms include pain and swelling of the parotid gland (located on either side of the jaw), difficulty swallowing, fever, and fatigue. The swelling generally occurs within 14-21 days after contact with the carrier. The acute phase lasts for approximately three days, but it may last for a week or more. Since mumps is a viral infection, there is no “cure”, but rather symptomatic treatments and immune enhancing medicines.
Complications of mumps include orchitis (swelling of the testicles), pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and meningitis (inflammation of the meninges, which surrounds the brain).
If you suspect you, or someone you love has mumps?
Get to your doctor as soon as possible.