Mononucleosis (Mono) – Symptoms, causes and treatment
What is Mono?
Mononucleosis (mono) is an infectious disease caused most often by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Mono is usually a mild illness that goes away without treatment after several weeks. Many people who get mono do not even know they have it.
How is Mono Spread?
EBV is not easily spread. It lives and grows in the nose and throat. Any fluid that comes from these parts of the body, including saliva, tears, or mucus, can be infected with the virus. EBV is spread when people come in contact with infected fluids, such as through intimate contact or sharing of saliva. You can get EBV if you share a drinking glass or eating utensils with an infected person. Some people carry EBV in their bodies throughout their lives but never get mono symptoms. Lifetime carriers of EBV are the most common source of EBV infection. It takes 4 to 6 weeks for symptoms to develop once a person comes in contact with EBV.
Mono (Mononucleosis) Symptoms
jaundice, with possible red rash in the form of raised bumps.
Mono is a contagious disease, primarily affecting the spleen and lymphatic system. It can be transmitted by kissing, sexual contact, or sharing food or utensils. But it can also be spread through the air, breathing contaminated air exhaled by another. So it is not necessarily the “kissing disease” it is described to be.
Most frequently contracted by children and teenagers, the incubation period is 10 days among children and 30-50 days among adults.
The symptoms are very similar to those of the flu, but those of mononucleosis continue for 2-4 weeks!
Even after the other symptoms are gone, a general fatigue can continue for 3-8 weeks more. Some people continue to feel fatigued for months or years.
Individuals frequently say they felt sick but continued working, thinking they would shake it off—and then came down with mono. So if you feel like going to bed and getting well, do it before something worse happens to you.
The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or, more rarely, the cytomegalovirus (CMV), is the cause of this infection. Therefore it cannot be treated with antibiotics. Both EBV and CMV remain in the body throughout the rest of one’s life; but the infection, carefully treated, generally seems to go away.
Therefore, rest and care for yourself, so the outward symptoms will successfully go away!
How is Mono Diagnosed?
A medical history and physical exam are the most important ways a health professional can diagnose mono. Simple blood tests may be done to help confirm the diagnosis. These tests include:
Mononucleosis tests (including the monospot test and EBV antibody test) are blood tests. It is possible for the monospot test to come back negative early in the course of the infections (false negative).
Complete blood count (CBC) may be done to help confirm the diagnosis of mono and rule out other infections or complications of mono.
Other tests may be done if complications of mono occur or if the mononucleosis tests are negative.
Liver tests may be done to study liver function and to determine if the liver is inflamed.
If the monospot test is negative, a different blood test may be ordered to check for cytomegalovirus (CMV) or other infections. CMV can cause a mono-like illness.
Usually no treatment for mono is needed. Most people recover from mono without other treatment within 1-4 weeks. However, for some it may take several months before they feel as if they have their normal energy level back again. This extended period of fatigue is not the same as having chronic fatigue syndrome. Corticosteroids (such as Predisone) may be used in a short course of treatment to control the swelling of the throat and tonsils. This type of steroid use may also decrease the overall length and severity of illness from infectious mono. Antibiotics are prescribed only if bacterial infection (such as Strep throat) is also present.
Go on a light fast of fruit and vegetable juices for a day or two.
1. Eat a nourishing diet, emphasizing vegetable soups, potato peeling broth, and brown rice. Eat small meals.
2. Drink plenty of distilled water.
3. Do not eat processed, or junk, food. Do not eat meat, sugar, fried foods, or drink soft drinks.
4. Stay in bed until the worst part is over. You need lots of rest.
5. Do not strain at the stool, for this could injure a temporarily enlarged spleen.
6. Be alert to signs that a more serious splenic infection may be about to begin: a fever over 102o F, severe pain in the middle of your left side that last 5 minutes or more, breathing becomes difficult, or swallowing becomes difficult. If this happens, contact your physician.
How Can I Prevent Mono?
The virus that causes mono (Epstein-Barr virus [EBV]) is not spread as easily as most people think. If you follow these tips, you can reduce the chance of spreading or catching mono:
Don’t kiss or share dishes or eating utensils with someone who has mono. Mono rarely recurs!
Self-Care of Diagnosed Mono
It may take several weeks (even months) for your energy level to return to normal. Don’t try to rush this process. Pushing yourself too hard could make you feel worse.
Give your body the rest it needs. You can then go back to your normal activities as you feel up to it.
Mono can cause your spleen to enlarge, making it prone to injury. You should avoid heavy lifting and contact sports for 3 to 4 weeks after you become ill with Mono to reduce the risk of injuring your spleen. · Alcohol consumption and other drugs not specifically prescribed should be avoided for at least 4 weeks because mono sometimes affects the liver.
Generous fluid intake may improve your sense of well-being and is especially important if you have a fever.