Emergency advice


  1. Seek medical advice.
  2. Advise recommended dose of paracetamol.
  3. Apply warm or cold compress.
  4. Help prevent infection spreading by washing hands regularly.

What is mumps?

Mumps is a contagious viral infection that was common in children before the Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR) vaccine was introduced in 1988. Mumps usually passes without causing serious damage to a person’s health.

It is spread by droplets of saliva - either breathing them in or from contact with contaminated surfaces.

Signs and symptoms

Look for:

  • painful swelling at the side of the face under the ears
  • a high temperature
  • headaches
  • joint pain.

What to do

  1. If you think someone has mumps, seek medical advice straight away.

  2. Advise the patient to take the recommended dose of painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

    • Never give aspirin to a child under 16 years old.
  3. Apply a warm or cold compress to swollen glands to help relieve the pain.

  4. It is important to prevent the infection spreading in the few days before and after the symptoms develop by:

    • regularly washing your hands with soap
    • disposing of used tissues.
  5. Advise the patient to stay off work or school for at least 5 days after the first symptoms appear.

Related first aid advice


Anyone of any age can get meningitis. Find out what to look for and what to do.


Measles is a highly infectious viral disease which can sometimes lead to serious complications. Find out what to look for and what to do.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common illness for children which can also affect adults. Find out what to look for and what to do.

St John Ambulance volunteers providing support