The most common mumps symptoms are fever, sore throat, and chills. However, not everyone who is infected with the mumps virus develops associated symptoms. Of all the symptoms, swollen salivary glands is probably the most recognizable, but this only happens in about half of all cases. Symptoms of mumps can lead to serious complications, such as deafness, pancreatitis, and meningitis.
When a person becomes infected with the mumps virus, it begins to multiply within the nose, throat, and lymph glands in the neck. After 16 to 18 days, on average, mumps symptoms can appear. This period between infection and the start of symptoms is called the "incubation period for mumps." This period can be as short as 12 days or as long as 25 days.
About 20 percent of people infected with the mumps virus do not develop mumps symptoms. It is also thought that up to half of people infected with the virus do not develop the classic symptoms, instead developing upper respiratory symptoms similar to the common cold.
If mumps symptoms do occur, early symptoms can include:
- Muscle and body aches
- Loss of appetite
- Sore throat
These early symptoms may or may not occur prior to the beginning of salivary gland swelling, the characteristic symptom of the disease.