There is currently no treatment for adult mumps that can kill the mumps virus. Because mumps is caused by a virus, antibiotics or other medications for mumps are not effective. Therefore, adult mumps treatment focuses on providing relief of symptoms as the body fights the virus. This is called supportive care.
(Click Treatment for Mumps for more information.)
Most adults recover from mumps without any long-term problems. However, there are a number of complications of mumps seen in adults. Some of these complications can occur with mumps symptoms. In other cases, these complications may develop without symptoms. In rare cases, long-term problems can result, including deafness.
Complications associated with adults mumps include:
- Inflammation of the testes, called orchitis (this occurs in 1 out of 4 males with mumps)
- Inflammation of the brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (called encephalitis and meningitis, respectively)
- Inflammation of the ovaries and/or breasts (oophoritis and mastitis, respectively)
- Spontaneous abortion, particularly in early pregnancy (miscarriage)
- Deafness, usually permanent
With the exception of deafness, these complications are more common among adults than children. There is no treatment for mumps that can prevent complications.
The most effective mumps prevention method in adults is the mumps vaccine. In the United States, mumps vaccine is most commonly given with MMR vaccine (also known as measles, mumps, rubella vaccine). Generally, anyone 18 years of age or older who was born after 1956 should get at least one dose of mumps vaccine, unless they can show that they have had either the vaccines or the diseases.
It takes about 2 weeks after a mumps vaccination before your body develops immunity to the virus. If you must travel to an affected area before you have this immunity, ways to avoid mumps infection include:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Do not share eating utensils or beverage containers
- Avoid sources of saliva from another person, such as sneezing or coughing.