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What is infectious mononucleosis?

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Infectious mononucleosis or mono is comprised of symptoms that are typically triggered by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It usually develops among teenagers but it can affect anyone at any age. The virus spreads via saliva which is why it is also known as “the kissing disease”.

Individuals who have mono often have high fever, sore throat and swollen lymph glands. In most cases, they are usually mild and resolve easily with minimal treatment. Remember that the infection is not usually serious and eventually subsides in 1-2 months.

What are the indications?

The incubation period of the virus is the time between acquiring the infection and the start of the symptoms. Remember that it usually lasts for 4-6 weeks. The indications of infectious mononucleosis usually last for 1-2 months such as the following:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
    Infectious mononucleosis
    Individuals who have infectious mononucleosis often have high fever, sore throat and swollen lymph glands.
  • Headache
  • Swollen lymph glands in the armpits and neck
  • Muscular weakness
  • Night sweating
  • Swollen tonsils

In some cases, the liver or spleen might become swollen, but the condition is rarely fatal. The condition is difficult to distinguish from other prevalent viruses such as the flu. If the symptoms do not seem to improve after 1-2 weeks of home treatment such as increased intake of fluids, adequate rest and a healthy diet, a doctor should be consulted.

What causes infectious mononucleosis?

Mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus which is part of the herpes virus family and one of the widespread viruses that are capable of infecting humans all over the globe.

The virus spreads via direct contact with saliva of an infected individual and does not spread with contact to blood. One can be exposed to the virus by sneezing or coughing, kissing or sharing food or drinks with an infected individual. Take note that it takes 4-8 weeks for the symptoms to manifest after acquiring the infection.

Among adults and teenagers, the infection can cause evident symptoms in some cases. As for children, the virus does not cause any symptoms and the infection is often unrecognized.


There is no specific treatment for infectious mononucleosis. Nevertheless, the doctor might prescribe a corticosteroid medication to minimize the swelling of the tonsil and throat. The symptoms typically resolve on their own in 1-2 months.

The treatment is focused on alleviating the symptoms such as using over-the-counter medications to reduce the fever along with measures to calm a sore throat. Other home remedies that can help ease the symptoms include:

  • Adequate rest
  • Providing the individual with a warm chicken soup
  • Keeping the body hydrated by drinking more water
  • Over-the-counter pain medications

A doctor should be consulted if the symptoms become worse or there is intense abdominal pain.

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