If you’re a hockey fan like I am, you’ve likely heard the news that Sidney Crosby, arguably the most well-known and skilled professional hockey player in the National Hockey League at this time, has missed his last three games because of the mumps.
And he’s not alone: since early November, at least 13 players in the NHL—from Anaheim to New York—have been diagnosed with the virus.
The mumps, often signified by lumpy, swollen cheeks, is a virus that’s rarely seen anymore. It’s typically associated with school-aged children. Adult cases tend to be very few and far between, which is why it’s relatively interesting to see it attacking a group of young, strong, healthy men.
Most Americans receive an immunization for the mumps as youngsters, making it a very uncommon condition. If you’ve had the condition before or were born prior to 1957, you’re likely immune. However, if you do get the mumps, there is very little you can do other than rest and wait for it to pass.
Because it is a virus, you really just have to let it run its course—which usually lasts about two weeks—by resting, avoiding foods that require a lot of chewing, staying away from sour foods that stimulate saliva production, and trying to drink as many fluids as possible. You can also provide relief by applying a hot or cold compress.
The mumps virus is spread through saliva, so sharing things like water bottles, cups, and spoons is almost a surefire way to get it. Being in close contact with an infected person is also risky, because if they cough in your presence, there is a chance you might get it, too (if you haven’t been immunized).
Common Symptoms of Mumps
Symptoms of mumps can often take time to appear, sometimes not showing up until two or three weeks after exposure. Symptoms include:
- Swollen and painful salivary glands on one or both sides of the face
- Weakness or fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Pain when chewing/swallowing
- Bumps on your cheeks
There can be complications with symptoms that are far more severe, but these are extremely rare. However, if they do occur, it’s wise to seek medical attention from a doctor right away. The complications involve swelling of the testicles, pancreas, breasts, and ovaries, and fluid around the spinal cord.
If you notice pain or unusual swelling in these areas, it’s important to see your doctor for treatment. But let me reiterate: this is extremely rare.
Tips to Avoid Mumps
The mini-epidemic taking place among professional hockey players is not really anything you should be concerned about; it is interesting, but not unique. Outbreaks have happened in hospitals and university dorms in the recent past. But at this time of the year, when we tend to be stressed out, running on little sleep, and often out in public, running errands or visiting with loved ones, it’s not a bad idea to take some precautions.
- One of the simplest ways to lower your chances of contracting a virus is to simply use your own cup and utensils.
- Avoid taste-testing what’s on someone else’s plate, too.
- Also be sure to wash your hands often and carry a small travel tube of hand sanitizer for cleaning your hands when on public transportation or shopping at malls.
When it comes to mumps in adults, you can keep living your life as you want, as the virus poses no imminent danger. Following the above tips, though, will help keep you healthy this holiday season.
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Source for Today’s Article:
“Mumps Cases and Outbreaks,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site, December 11, 2014; http://www.cdc.gov/mumps/outbreaks.html.
McIndoe, S., “NHL Weekend: The Doctor Will See Everyone Now,” Grantland web site, December 15, 2014; http://grantland.com/the-triangle/nhl-weekend-the-doctor-will-see-everyone-now/.
“Diseases and Conditions: Mumps,” Mayo Clinic web site, October 5, 2015; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mumps/basics/symptoms/con-20019914, last accessed December 16, 2014.