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Authors

  1. Durning, Marijke Vroomen RN

Article Content

What is mononucleosis?

Mononucleosis, or "mono," is a contagious infection caused by a virus. The Epstein-Barr virus causes most cases of mononucleosis.

 

Anyone can get mononucleosis, but it's most common among teenagers and young adults, usually between ages 15 and 24. It's often called the "kissing disease" because the virus is usually passed on to others through infected saliva. Besides kissing, mononucleosis can be transferred through coughing, sneezing, sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, or even using the same lipstick or toothbrush.

 

How will I know if I have mononucleosis?

You may think you have the flu because the symptoms of mononucleosis are similar. Signs and symptoms of mononucleosis usually start about 4 to 8 weeks after infection. The most common signs and symptoms are

 

* fever

 

* sore throat

 

* swollen lymph nodes

 

* feeling tired

 

* trouble swallowing

 

* sweats

 

* loss of appetite

 

* nausea

 

* headache.

 

 

How will my healthcare provider know I have mononucleosis?

Mononucleosis is usually diagnosed by the signs and symptoms, most of which usually go away after about 4 weeks. The feeling of fatigue may last a little longer in some people. Your healthcare provider will also take a sample of your blood to check for evidence of mononucleosis.

 

How is mononucleosis treated?

There's no special treatment for mononucleosis, but your healthcare provider may advise you to take the following steps to relieve your symptoms:

 

* get plenty of rest

 

* drink plenty of fluids

 

* use medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat the pain and fever.

 

 

Your healthcare provider will advise you to avoid intimate contact with others so you don't spread the virus. You should also stay away from sports and other physical activities for about a month after you feel better so you don't injure your spleen, which is one of the organs in your body that can become enlarged during mononucleosis.

 

You may feel tired for 2 to 3 months after getting mononucleosis. Some people develop other infections, such as strep throat, when they have mononucleosis. If this happens, your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics.

 

How can I avoid getting mononucleosis?

Protect yourself by avoiding contact with the saliva of someone who already has the virus. If you know someone has it, don't use his or her eating utensils or toothbrush, or share food or drinks. If you have mononucleosis, take the same precautions to avoid transmitting it to others.