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What is infectious mononucleosis (mono)

Infectious mononucleosis (mono)

Infectious mononucleosis (mono)

Infectious mononucleosis, or mono, refers to a group of symptoms usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It typically occurs in teenagers, but you can get it at any age. The virus is spread through saliva, which is why some people call it “the kissing disease.”

Infectious mononucleosis (mono)
Infectious mononucleosis (mono)

People with mono often have a high fever, swollen lymph glands, and a sore throat. Most cases of mono are mild and resolve easily with minimal treatment. The infection is typically not serious and usually goes away on its own in one to two months.

What causes mononucleosis (mono)

Mononucleosis is caused by the EBV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), EBV is a member of the herpes virus family and is one of the most common viruses to infect humans around the world. The virus is spread through direct contact with saliva from the mouth of an infected person and cannot be spread through blood contact. You can be exposed to the virus by a cough or sneeze, by kissing, or by sharing food or drinks with someone who has mono. It usually takes four to eight weeks for symptoms to develop after you’re infected.

In adolescents and adults, the infection causes noticeable symptoms in 35 to 50 percent of cases. In children, the virus typically causes no symptoms and the infection often goes unrecognized.

What are the symptoms of mononucleosis (mono)

Typical symptoms of infectious mononucleosis usually appear four to six weeks after you get infected with EBV. Symptoms may develop slowly and may not all occur at the same time.

  1. Extreme fatigue

  2. Fever

  3. Sore throat

  4. Head and body aches

  5. Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits

  6. Swollen liver or spleen or both

  7. Rash

Who is at risk for mononucleosis (mono)

The following groups have a higher risk for getting mononucleosis:

  • Young people between the ages of 15 and 30

  • Students

  • Medical interns

  • Nurses

  • Caregivers

  • People who take medications that suppress the immune system

How is mononucleosis Diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and will examine you. You may also need blood tests to check for signs of mono. Blood tests can also help rule out other causes of your symptoms.

How is mononucleosis treated?

  1. Get plenty of rest. You may need bed rest, which could keep you away from school or work for a little while.

  2. Gargle with salt water or use throat lozenges to soothe your sore throat. This is okay for children as long as they are old enough.

  3. Take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (such as Advil) to reduce fever and relieve a sore throat and headaches. Never give aspirin to someone younger than age 20 years, because it can cause Reye syndrome, a serious illness. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

  4. Avoid contact sports and heavy lifting. Your spleen may be enlarged, and an impact or straining could cause it to burst.

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