Updated on April 27, 2009
R.M. asks from Murrieta, CA
13 answers

My 5 yr old son woke up today complaining that his ear and cheek hurt. Upon examination I saw that the area just below his ear was a little red, swollen and very painful to the touch. I was thinking maybe an ear infection or that he got bit by something. I took him to the pediatric urgent care where they diagnosed him with mumps. Out of my three kids, he is the only one who HAS had the MMR shot. I am wondering if anyone has ever gone through or heard of this? I am hoping his case will be mild since he has had the shot but of course I start reading all of these "rare complications" on the internet that freak me out, especially since I have two younger un-vaccinated children as well. He has no fever, no cold symptoms... the only symptom is that the spot on his face hurts when he eats or when it is touched. I just keep getting this weird feeling that it is something other than mumps... it just seems so odd. He has been to the dentist very recently and has no cavities so it isn't a problem with his teeth. Anyone have any insight??

ETA - To the poster who spoke of me "depriving my other kids of protection," one is an infant who would not have received the shot yet, and my other daughter, who is now almost 4, fell asleep immediately after receiving a round of shots and could not be woken up for nearly 20 minutes. According to the VAERS system this is considered a very rare and serious reaction to a vaccine and she will NOT be getting any more shots other than the tetanus bootser. I am sorry if people think of that as "irresponsible" but it is my choice.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hey R.!

I'm one of the "crazy, irresponsible, selfish" moms who chooses to not vaccinate my son. I've read too much information, not just online (in fact, very LITTLE of what I know comes from online sources) but also from doctors, the PDR, the NHO, the CDC and the Useless FDA! Enough about that. I'm sorry that your lil girl had to go through that..
To answer your questions... YES it is ENTIRELY possible for your son to have mumps despite having the vaccine. Vaccines do NOT convey immunity. In fact, the problem is that the vaccines are useless against the mutating viruses. All vaccines were created at the time when the illnesses were already on their way out. They are all very dangerous and have serious complications. Mumps can be treated... and he will survive and the greatest thing... he will have LIFETIME immunity! He won't get it again. (Unless it's a very mild case which the vaccines sometimes produce... not a good thing because then he can get it again).
I have a great book called "The Sanctity of Human Blood" by Dr Tim O'Shea. Read it! He quotes the very people who create vaccines and market them. Also, he cites the PDR... crack open that book and I promise you that you will never think twice about vaccinating or not.
I'm sorry that you were attacked by someone else... I get it often so I know what it feels like. Most of the time I feel like asking that parent who is doing the attacking How SHE could risk killing her child to only possibly prevent an illness that is easily treated...
Feel free to email me if you need any encouragement or have any questions. :)


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answers from Los Angeles on

Definitely recommend listening to the other moms who said get a second opinion from your own pediatrician. Mumps are extrememly rare, and your son would be an even rarer case since he's been vaccinated.
My son gets huge swollen lymph nodes when he is fighting ear or other respiratory infections, he just had one 2 weeks ago on his cheek at the jaw line. It went away in about one week without antibiotics.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Could it be mastoiditis?

Mastoiditis is an infection of the bony air cells in the mastoid bone, located just behind the ear. It is rarely seen today because of the use of antibiotics to treat ear infections.

A friend's son had this (very rare). I would check with another doctor to rule this out ASAP. Good luck to you! I hope he is well soon!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Probably an infection in his parotid gland:

Unfortunately, he will probably require a course of antibiotics to heal. Try not to give him dairy or sugar while he has the infection, it will aggravate the condition. Also, if he eats anything sour, it will cause him much discomfort.

I was a child with chronic infections in the parotid gland on my right side. Every time we went to the doctor, they thought it was mumps. These infections became a pretty normal part of my life, unfortunately, but I outgrew them by the age of 10. I was a somewhat premature baby and the theory that one doctor had was that my parotid gland was actually underdeveloped and would clog easily -- I would eventually outgrow it. (That did happen, so presumably he was correct.)

You can gently rub the area in circular motions and then press to release some of the pus from the infection. (The pus will release through a small opening in your son's inner check.) That will temporarily relieve some of the pressure. Also, a heating pad or hot-pack applied to the area will greatly relieve the pain.

Good for you for knowing your child does not have mumps. Hope he feels much better soon.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hi R.,

This could be bacterial parotitis, rather than viral (mumps). The MMR vaccine confers immunity in 99.7% of recipients after the second dose has been given, so there is a very, very, small chance that your son did not develop immunity, but it's not very likely.

The doctor should check further. A white blood cell count would be in order. Also, if your son has any purulent (pus-like) drainage inthe back of his throat, that should be cultured. One of the chief causes of bacterial parotitis is infection with Staph. aureus, which is a normal resident in the throat but can get out of control on occassion. Antibiotics are warrented, especially since untreatedc Staph infections have a high risk of leading to severe sepsis or septic shock -- something you definitely do NOT want to deal with!

If you want to watch carefully for a day or so I think that should be OK, but I am not an MD, so please do not consider this medical advice, only what I would do as a Mom in your situation (and I would definitely trust my gut feeling, as you are doing now!). I would high-tail it back to the doctor if any sign of fever develops, if your son's pulse starts racing or if he begins breathing rapidly. These symptoms of the Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) which, in combination with a confirmed or suspected infection, defines sepsis and requires immediate treatment.

As for not vaccinating your other two children -- you are right on the money. While I cannot support this theory as yet (I need to do a full literature review to see what, if anything, is out there), I'm starting to think that the type of severe reactions experienced by the very, very small percentage of children who have them is an over-response of the natural immune cytokine system that controls the inflammatory response. This is the response that is invoked in sepsis and there are a few papers circulating indicating that there may be a genetic component to this response -- that is, that some people inherit a predisposition to overstimulation of the cytokine system. If this really is the case, I would be even more concerned that whatever is going on with your son could progress since he would share a similar (although not identical) genetic make up to the child who suffered an extreme response to vaccination.

I want to stress to you R. that these are purely my own thoughts and hypothesis based upon the extensive research that I have been doing on the sepsis continuum over the last few months. I am not an expert in this field by any means -- especially not on the clinical level.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I would agree with getting a second opinion. Could it be a swollen lymphnode? I have had that happen a couple times, and they are a big swollen lump that is very painful to the touch. Seems odd the mumps would only be in that one area. I hope you figure it out!
Best regards,

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answers from San Diego on

Do you have a cat? If you do he may have cat scratch fever. That's right, it is not just a Ted Nugent song! I have had it and my ex had it and was misdiagnosed with lymphoma! It will go away on it's own.

As for the not getting shots, that is totally up to you and I applaud you for standing up for what you want. Remember to let your kids get dirty and give them a good immunity boosting supplement.

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answers from San Diego on

I wasn't planning on responding, but hearing other Moms say mumps was not a big deal upset me. My mother lost her hearing to mumps, and her sister was in the hospital for weeks. I don't know if your child has mumps, and if there's a blood test to make sure, I would get it along with a 2nd opinion. Not everyone has a "fun" time with it, for some it is absolutely terrible

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hi R.,
I'm a family physician and my recommendation is to take him to his regular doctor to be reevaluated. Mumps is pretty uncommon, even in unvaccinated children (although I strongly recommend immunizing your other kids--measles is on the upswing and is far more dangerous than mumps). I wonder if he doesn't have an infected lymph node as another reader suggested. I've actually never seen mumps--after 20+ years! (the vaccines do work!)--but redness and no fever, etc, is atypical. Best wishes.



answers from Los Angeles on

whole foods sells cell salt called Nat Phos 6x & 12X. get both. give the child with swelling 6x every hour. give to other children 12x 4 times a day on empty stomach
Good Luck



answers from Los Angeles on

Wow! We went through a similar situation 2 weeks ago with our 4 year old; however, it was me thinking it was mumps and the urgent care telling us it wasn't!! My son woke up in the middle of the night saying his check hurt. Not terribly concerning to me since I thought he may have been sleeping on his side or had one of his toys in bed with him. He woke up in the morning still saying his cheek hurt and I noticed the same area you mentioned just below the ear was really swollen and if we touched he would scream. We both thought it was mumps. Brought him to urgent care and the Dr. said no worries it was probably just a saliva gland that was blocked and it caused an infection in the lymp node area. He told us to give him some antibiotics for a week and he should be fine. This was a Sunday, and of course since I was convinenced it was mumps first thing Monday I brought him to his pediatic dr. and he said the same thing, but he did put him on a different antibiotic. Anyway I would double check with your pediatrican since he had the vaccine (which by the way needs a booster at age 5 because about 10-15% of the kids who get the first shot do not develop the immunity to the illness and need another dose). You don't mention a fever, which I am not sure goes with the mumps or not, but it just sounds so similar to what we just went through with our son I had to write to you. Let me know how everything turns out, you can email me direct at luck, T.


answers from Las Vegas on

Dear R.:

That's really weird, R.. I'm thinking that the first poster is on to something. I had mumps and so did most kids in my generation. It starts with a fever and then the difficulty swallowing and then the bulging cheeks and neck...BOTH sides, not one.

It was not bad at all. It was actually one of the funnest diseases I remember having. All of the little cousins got it at the same time and we spent all day eating ice cream and watching cartoons. What WAS bad was that my poor mom got it and she was miserable. Oh, and although all the cousins and I had BOTH sides swollen, she only had one side swollen but it was GIANT and painful. I think most of the complications you read about may apply to adults, not kids.

I wonder if your son DOES have mumps. It sounds unsure. But, if he does, I wouldn't worry about him; I'd worry about the adults he's contacted!





answers from Los Angeles on

I was wondering if they did a blood test to check if it is really mumps? I had the mumps as a teenager. I'm sure your child will be fine. If it is mumps you won't need to keep giving him the vaccine because he will now have life long immunity. I would just keep him inside so as not to infect other people and keep an eye on him. Don't worry too much about the "dangers" they aren't as bad as long as he is being treated. Good luck! Let us know if it turns out to be something else just curious

For the other posts who think Mumps is so rare here is an article from yesterday's paper

Mumps outbreak confirmed at NU
By Blast Magazine Newsroom
April 25
Leave a Comment
The Boston Public Health Commission has confirmed that there are two definite cases and 10 probably cases of mumps in Boston.

Of the 12 total cases, 11 patients attend Northeastern University.

According to the Health Commission, mumps illness is caused by a virus that lives in a person’s nose, mouth, and throat. It can spread to others who are in close contact with a case through direct contact with infected saliva or through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The most common symptoms are a low fever, headache, muscle pain and swelling in the salivary glands (located at the cheek, below the ear and under the jaw). Symptoms can appear 12 to 25 days after contact with an infected person. Those ill with mumps are most contagious 3 days before until 5 days after symptoms begin. Mumps is usually a mild illness but can cause serious problems in some people.

The Boston Public Health Commission encourages persons who were born after 1956 who may have been in contact with a person who has mumps to contact their healthcare provider and have their immunization status evaluated.

Anyone with symptoms of mumps should seek medical attention right away.

For more information, call the Boston Public Health Commission at ###-###-####.

Blast is The Online Magazine
Posted at 3:53 p.m. in: Local News, Northeastern University, The News, The Schools Tags: disesae, mumps, Northeastern University