One of the most common ailments of childhood, mumps is caused by a viral infection in the saliva glands. It may only affect one side of the face, but often spreads to the opposite gland a day or two later. Along with swollen glands, mumps may cause headache, earache, joint pain and a high temperature.

Although adult men who catch mumps may suffer swelling and inflammation of the testicles, this rarely leads to sterility, contrary to common belief. In women, inflammation of the ovaries can cause abdominal pain, but again, is unlikely to result in permanent damage. Mumps is infectious, and is an airborne virus and it often occurs in epidemics, particularly in spring and summer.

It is usually spread through coughing or sneezing, which releases droplets of contaminated saliva. It can also be spread if an infectious person touches their nose or mouth and then other objects, such as door handles or shared contact surfaces such as desks or computer keyboards. Sharing cups, plates or utensils with an infectious person is also a vector for the spread of the virus.

Chinese Medicine regards mumps as an invasion of Wind-Damp-Heat which has become lodged in channels of the facial area, and therefore causes the painful swelling of the glands. Chinese herbs such as Jin Yin Hua (Flos Lonicerae), Ban Lan Gen (Radix Isatidis), Pu Gong Ying (Herba Taraxaci), Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae) or Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei) can all be used in Chinese Medicine treatment.

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