Medical Q&As

Mumps - re-infection?

I am a 38-year-old male and I think I have developed mumps for a second time. My cheeks have been swollen for 3 days. Is it possible to contact mumps a second time?

Once a person has developed mumps they remain immune to that disease for the rest of their lives. Therefore if they come in contact with the virus again their immune system recognises the virus and eradicates it. There are several causes for swelling such as you describe other than mumps. Sometimes a food particle or a tiny stone may block one of the salivary glands and this may give rise to swelling. Alternatively it may be that some of your lymph glands and not your parotid glands are swollen. It is also possible that you didn’t have mumps the first time and are only developing it now. In that regard it is worth asking was the original diagnosis of mumps made by a doctor or was it self–diagnosed or diagnosed by a family member? I pose that question because I have often assessed people that presented with a presumed attack of mumps only to find that their lymph glands and not their parotid glands were swollen. The parotid glands are the specific set of salivary glands that are located along the margin of the jawbone just in front of the ears. These are the glands that become swollen with mumps. If you have a definite diagnosis of previous mumps infection then it is likely that your current episode of swelling is due to another cause. In that case it is reasonable for you to observe your condition for a little while longer and see if it resolves. On the other hand if symptoms are increasing in severity then you should see your GP.