How Long do Mumps Symptoms Last?

Mumps is a viral infection caused by the mumps virus. The duration of mumps symptoms can vary from person to person, but the typical course of the illness follows this general pattern:

  1. Incubation Period: After exposure to the virus, there is an incubation period of about 16-18 days (range: 12-25 days) before symptoms appear. During this time, an infected person may not experience any symptoms.
  2. Initial Symptoms: Mumps symptoms often begin with a few days of general malaise, headache, and low-grade fever. This is followed by swelling of one or both parotid salivary glands located near the jaw. Swelling of the salivary glands is a classic hallmark of mumps.
  3. Parotid Gland Swelling: The swelling of the parotid glands usually peaks within a week and can be painful. This is the most recognizable symptom of mumps. Other salivary glands may also become affected.
  4. Other Symptoms: In addition to parotid gland swelling, people with mumps may experience symptoms like sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and loss of appetite.
  5. Resolution: The acute phase of mumps typically lasts about 7-10 days, but the swelling of the salivary glands may persist for up to two weeks.
  6. Complications: In some cases, mumps can lead to complications, such as orchitis (swelling of the testicles in males), oophoritis (swelling of the ovaries in females), meningitis, or encephalitis. These complications can extend the duration of symptoms and lead to additional health issues.

It’s important to note that while mumps symptoms generally resolve within a few weeks, some individuals may experience complications or lingering discomfort, particularly if complications arise.

Prevention is key when it comes to mumps. The MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is highly effective in preventing mumps. If you suspect you have mumps or have been in close contact with someone who has the virus, it is advisable to seek medical attention for diagnosis and management of the condition, as well as to help prevent the spread of the virus to others.