Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis is a viral disease characterized by fever, sore throat, swollen lymph glands, and fatigue.

  • Causes


    Mononucleosis is caused by the
    Epstein-Barr virus
    (EBV). Found mainly in saliva and mucus, EBV is passed from person to person by intimate behavior, such as kissing.

  • Definition

    Mononucleosis is a viral disease characterized by fever, sore throat, swollen lymph glands, and fatigue.

    Swollen Glands
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis is based on:

    • Symptoms, which can differ according to age; young children may be difficult to diagnose

    • Four primary symptoms:

      • Fever
      • Swollen lymph nodes
      • Sore throat
      • Fatigue

    • Two primary tests:

      • Blood tests and mono spot tests

      • Throat culture—to check for
        strep throat
        , which can resemble mononucleosis and also complicate mononucleosis

  • Prevention

    Most people contract the EBV virus sometime during their lives. Prevention is geared toward decreasing the likelihood that EBV will develop into mononucleosis. Follow these guidelines to decrease your risk:

    • Avoid intimate contact, especially kissing, with anyone who has active mononucleosis.

    • Eat a
      healthful diet
      .
    • Avoid excess stress.
    • Get enough rest.

  • Risk Factors

    Many people get EBV during their lifetime. Factors that increase the likelihood that EBV will develop into mononucleosis include:

    • Contracting EBV after age 10
    • Lowered immune resistance due to other illness, stress, or fatigue
    • Living in close quarters with a large number of people, such as in a college dormitory

    One episode of mononucleosis usually produces permanent immunity.

  • Symptoms

    Signs of mononucleosis usually begin 4-7 weeks after you were exposed to the virus. The initial symptoms may be a sense of general weakness that lasts about one week. This is followed by symptoms that may include:

    • High fever
    • Severe sore throat/swollen tonsils
    • Swelling of the lymph nodes
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of appetite
    • Muscle aches
    • Enlargement of the spleen or liver

    • Mild
      jaundice

  • Treatment

    There is no treatment to cure mononucleosis or to shorten the length of the illness. It usually runs its course in 4-6 weeks, although the fatigue may last longer.

    During the first few weeks after diagnosis, patients should avoid contact sports. Inflammation of the spleen from mononucleosis puts individuals at high risk of splenic rupture. This can require surgery. In rare cases, it can be fatal.

    Treatment includes:


    If you are diagnosed with mononucleosis, follow your doctor's
    instructions
    .