Mumps Symptoms for Children

The first mumps symptoms your child may experience, if any symptoms appear at all, might be a temperature and a decreased appetite. Since a decreased appetite usually goes hand-in-hand with a temperature—and the two can be symptoms of other illnesses—you probably won’t recognize that your child has mumps immediately. However, if your child starts sporting cheeks that look like pet hamsters, it is a good idea to get him to the doctor for confirmation that he has mumps.

Mumps Defined

Mumps is a viral infection. It can’t be treated by antibiotics, and it is highly contagious. Mumps spreads through the saliva of an infected person. Therefore, you can contract the virus by using the eating or drinking utensils of someone infected, as well as breathing in the air immediately following an infected person's cough or sneeze. Generally, mumps has run its course within two weeks.


A fever, stiff neck and headache are possible symptoms of mumps. In addition, loss of appetite, body weakness and fatigue, as well as pain while chewing or swallowing, are other symptoms your child may have with a case of mumps. An infected child could also experience pain and swelling in the facial area, since mumps affects the parotid glands. But other salivary glands, instead of the parotid ones, may be the ones affected. If that happens, the child will likely experience swelling under the tongue, or chin, instead of in the cheeks. There may also be swelling in the chest.

Rare Swelling Symptoms

While uncommon, mumps does have the capacity to cause swelling and inflammation elsewhere in the body, especially in the brain and spinal cord. Encephalitis (brain swelling) and meningitis (swelling in the spinal cord and the lining of the brain) can be complications experienced due to mumps, but fortunately these conditions are rare. However, when these areas of the body are affected by mumps, the following symptoms can occur, and generally do so within a week of the child’s first mumps symptoms: drowsiness, convulsions, nausea, vomiting, as well as fever and a headache.

Symptoms Unique to Males

Male children might also experience pain and inflammation of the testicles, a condition known as orchitis. Chills, vomiting and abdominal pain can accompany the other mumps symptoms when orchitis is also experienced.

Symptoms Unique to Females

Pain and tenderness in the abdominal area may occur in females due to inflammation of the ovaries.