More than 26,000 participants run the risk of developing mumps after being exposed to the virus during the National Cheerleaders Association All-Star National Championship held on Feb. 23-25 in Dallas, Texas.

To date, there are no cases of the viral infection among local residents present during the competition. It only strengthens the state health department's suspicion that the source of the mumps virus is someone coming from a different state.

The championship has been joined by 1,320 teams representing 39 states and nine other countries. Any cheerleader or coach belonging to any of the participating teams must seek medical attention immediately if they are experiencing the following symptoms of mumps.

Mumps Symptoms To Look Out For

Mumps is a contagious infection caused by a paramyxovirus that targets the parotid glands, one of the three pairs of salivary glands found in front or below the airs.

When such glands are infected, they normally begin to swell five days after exposure. However, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that symptoms won't appear until 12-15 days following infection.

The most common symptom of the disease is parotitis or enlarged cheeks. It can occur on one side or both sides, near the neck area. Besides this symptom, other signs include fever, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, and neck pain when chewing or swallowing food.

In some cases, people who have contracted the mumps virus experience mild to no symptoms at all. To confirm that they are free from infection, it is best to see a doctor for proper diagnosis. They may be asked to provide a cerebrospinal fluid, blood, or urine sample for testing.

Foregoing proper diagnosis may lead to serious complications such as inflammation in the brain, testicles, pancreas, ovaries, and breasts. In rare cases, the infection has been reported to cause permanent hearing loss.

Alternative Treatment For Mumps Infection

As it is caused by a virus, antibiotics and other forms of medication are useless in treating mumps infection. However, alternative methods can be taken to provide comfort while feeling sick.

For relief from pain and fever, take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Both medications are available for purchase over the counter. Applying ice packs also temporarily soothes the swollen glands.

If experiencing difficulties with eating, switch to a soft diet comprised of soup, yogurt, and other kinds of food that are easy to chew. Keep away from acidic drinks as they can further irritate your salivary glands.

The last mumps outbreak affected 3,000 people in northwest Arkansas, reports the CDC. As of Feb. 24, only 304 infections have been reported to the agency.

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