INFECTIOUS DISEASES – Mumps – Parotitis
Parotitis is medically meant inflammation of the parotid gland. Parotid gland may get infected by bacteria / virus / stone formation / blocks, etc. Mumps is a type of parotitis, which is caused by viral infection. It mostly comes as an acute epidemic / infectious disease which involves the parotid gland with non-suppurative enlargement. Occasionally, it can involve other salivary glands too (i.e., submandibular and sublingual glands). In Tamil, it is called ‘Ponnukku Veengi’. Its symptom presentations and course often illustrate it as an iceberg disease where one needs to be very careful during suffering and treatment or otherwise it would damage the inner parts.
Are situated just behind the jaw and just below and front of the ears on either side (back end of the cheek). It is the largest gland among the salivary glands. It consists of two lobes – superficial and deep. Facial nerve with its branches passes in between these lobes. Parotid gland secrete mainly watery saliva (i.e., of serous type). Salivary glands (including parotid gland) secretes saliva and pour them into the mouth and helps to break down / digest food substances. Parotid gland constitutes 25 -30 per cent of the total volume of saliva. Parotid glands open into the oral cavity through stenson’s duct just opposite the upper second molar teeth.
Incidences – Mumps is mostly a children disease (of age 5-15 years) but can also occur in adults. Even though it was a more common epidemic disorder in the 1970s (occurring commonly during the beginning of winter), its incidences had fallen beneficially after the introduction of vaccine MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) in the National Immunisation Schedule.
Causes – Mumps is caused by Paramyxo virus. It is highly contagious (communicable) disease. It spreads thro droplet infection and saliva contamination. The common route of entry is oral and respiratory tract. Crowding, coughing / sneezing in the midst of others, using same water glasses influences easy spread.
Suffering intensity often varies from person to person, i.e. some might have just a little swelling for few days, some might develop hard swelling with tenderness and some others might develop toxic symptoms like high fever, severe pain in neck, ear, face, etc., with difficulty in swallowing. Children usually suffer mildly whereas adolescent age group or adults suffer more virulently with toxic symptoms and complications. It can affect one or both parotid glands. The incubation period of the disease is 2 to 3 weeks. Suffering period is 5-10 days depending upon the intensity. The common symptoms are
- Malaise and anorexia (loss of appetite)
- Fever with body pain
- Swelling in parotid area (just below the ear and near angle of jaw) and cheek
- Tenderness near ear on swallowing
- Headache / face ache with locked jaw (Trismus)
- Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) or opening of mouth
- Sore throat
- Ear pain and hardness of hearing
Alarming signs and complication – Every disease should be addressed in its initial stage itself with good health concern and no disease should be underestimated and left untreated as a simple suffering of a few days. As scabies surfaces in the skin and attacks kidneys in the second phase and as rheumatic fever licks the joint in the start-up and bites the heart in the second phase, mumps curbs the reproductive system in second phase to cause infertility. It can also damage the brain and spinal cord and threaten survival. So, the sufferer should avail of critical care with occurrence of following symptoms.
- Pain and swelling in testis – Orchitis (since it can make one to suffer with sterility)
- Excruciating pain in abdomen – may be because of pancreatitis or because of ovarian pain (oophoritis) in females
- Severe headache with neck stiffness – development of meningitis
- Hardness of hearing – development of sensory neural deafness due to involvement of facial nerve which passes through parotid gland.
The other complications are
- Encephalomyelitis (inflammation of brain and spinal cord )
- Myocarditis (inflammation of muscles of heart)
Diagnosis– Simple clinical examination of swollen gland itself is sufficient to fix the disease or diagnosis as mumps. Anyhow, to confirm it through lab reports / records, the virus can be identified from saliva, blood, urine, cerebrospinal fluid, etc. The following tests may be necessary to confirm it:
- Specific antigen antibody test
- Culture and sensitivity of saliva / blood / urine / cerebrospinal fluid
- MRI scan
Prevention – One time suffering usually provides life-long resistance (immunity). Rarely does it recur. Following the National Immunization Schedule with MMR vaccine it is a very effective way to prevent epidemic mumps (needs to be given before 1 ½ years of age to claim good vaccination effect). This vaccine prevents mumps as well as measles and rubella.
As mumps spreads through droplets of saliva (with coughing, sneezing, from drinking glasses, etc.), avoiding these contacts / infectants and isolation of sufferer can help in prevention and arresting the spread. The affected child should not be allowed to play with other children for a week. Since the disease starts spreading before it manifests symptoms, there is no way one can have full control over it.
- Bed rest
- Provide external warmth application / warm oil application to soothe the hard swelling and relax the stiffness of the parts
- Maintain good oral hygiene with salt water gargling / antiseptic mouthwash gargling
- Provide plenty of oral fluids
- Provide light bland diet (easy to swallow)
- Solid foods
- Citrus fruits and juices
General treatment – Normally, mumps is a self-limiting disease and can be managed without any treatment. But it is better to avail of treatment in the start-up phase itself to control its course to avoid complications. As intensity of the mumps complaints vary from child to child, the management also differs. There is no specific treatment for mumps in Allopathy. Symptomatically, they will provide anti-inflammatory drugs / antibiotics / analgesics / steroids depending upon the intensity of the suffering. Antibiotics usually won’t have any beneficial effects on mumps, since it is caused by a virus. In case of complications i.e., orchitis / oophoritis / pancreatitis / meningitis – steroids and pain-killers will be administered.
Homeopathy can play a vital role in shortening the days of mumps’ course while treatment is started in the start-up phase itself. It can also enforce the swelling to reduce at a faster rate without complications while treatment is opted somewhat later. It is better to treat the complaint as early as possible to get speedy and complete cure or otherwise complication(s) are inevitable. In Homoeopathy, medicines are usually selected with the mode of onset, character of the disease, exciting cause, characteristic symptoms of patient – mental / physical restlessness, thirst, sweat, appetite, sleep, urine and stool habit, etc. A well-selected remedy quickly supports the body mechanism to raise the immune level and clears the complaints at the earliest.
Homeopathy can treat mumps safely to have good harmony of health without side-effects and complications. Homoeopathy is the finger post at the cross-roads of healing which directs the safest way to a permanent cure. Homoeopathy medicines frequently used for mumps are Abrotanum, Aconite, Apis mel, Belladonna, Bryonia, Causticum, Calc Flour, Hepar sulph, Lachesis, Lycopodium, Merc sol, Parotidinum, Phytolacco, Pilocarpinum, Pulsatilla, Pyrogen, Rhus tox, Silicea, etc. These medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a Qualified Homeopath.
Dr. S. Chidambaranathan, BHMS, MD
24 E. New Mahalipatti Road
Tel: +91-452-233-8833 | +91-984-319-1011
www.drcheena.com / www.drcheena.in
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(Disclaimer: The contents of this column are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of healthcare professional for any health problem or medical condition.)