To Vaccinate Or Not To Vaccinate? Understanding The Mumps And Your Child

In recent years, one of the most volatile issues in the parenting community has been that of immunizing (vaccinating) children against certain diseases and illnesses. A vocal group of parent activists have begun questioning the efficacy of the vaccination process and whether or not it is the right choice for their children. If you have been following this debate, you yourself may be wondering whether or not you should take your pediatrician's advice and vaccinate your children against mumps and other diseases. Before you make this important decision for your child, get to know more of the facts about the mumps and the effects that this illness could have on your child if they are not vaccinated. Then, you can be sure you make the right choice for your child.

What Is The Mumps?

The mumps is a viral infection that is common in most of the world, though it is no longer common in the United States. It is an extremely contagious illness and is far more common in children than it is in adults.

Mumps is an airborne virus as well as one that can be contracted through direct contact with an infected person. It is found in the saliva and nasal mucus or secretions of an infected person. This means that coughing and sneezing can transmit the disease as well as touching objects or surfaces that have come into contact with an infected person.

What Are The Symptoms?

The mumps can have many different symptoms. Among those symptoms, the swelling and inflammation of the parotid glands (also known as the salivary glands) is the most noticeable and prominent. This swelling can cause the face and cheeks to appear swollen and can be quite painful.

Along with the swelling, a person can experience fever, nausea, headaches, difficulty swallowing, and other flu-like symptoms like aching joints and fatigue. Normally these symptoms are not life-threatening and will not leave lifelong effects. However, there is a chance of sterility or smaller than normal testicles for male children who contract the disease. It can also cause viral meningitis that may or may not become severe. Mumps can also cause deafness or an inflamed pancreas in some cases.

What Are The Treatments For Mumps?

There are no treatments to cure or get rid of mumps. Once a child contracts this viral infection, the only available treatments are to try to manage symptoms and manage/reduce pain and discomfort. Keeping your child hydrated is important to prevent serious health problems, particularly if your child is having difficulty swallowing.

Your child's body will have to develop immunity against the mumps on its own, and all you will be able to do is wait and help them feel better in the meantime. The virus usually runs its course within a few weeks although every child's body works differently.

Now that you know more about the mumps and the potential effects that it could have on your child, you can sit down with your pediatrician and decide whether or not you want to vaccinate your child against this viral infection.