Mononucleosis



What is Mononucleosis?

Mononucleosis is an acute viral infection occurring mainly in the adolescent years that is caused by unusual cell growth of white blood cells. The main cause of these infections is the EBV or Epstein-Barr virus. Practically all humans suffer an infection from EBV before or upon reaching adulthood. For many that become infected, the body finds ways to adapt to the pathogen (agent causing the infection) and overtime builds up immunity to it. EBV is also referred to as human herpes virus 4 (HHV-4) and has a worldwide effect.

Most incidences of infections occur during childhood. The main problem with these early cases is that most go unnoticed or are mistaken for other common childhood ailments. Despite this, it is the infections occurring after puberty that can be most devastating.



Symptoms of Mononucleosis

The virus can take 30 to 50 days to incubate. After this period symptoms such as headaches, short-lived mild fevers that can get progressively worse if throat becomes severely soar, lymph nodes in the neck may become enlarged, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and inflamed tonsils. Affected tonsils are characterized by redness, exudates (white patches) and swelling. Although fatigue can linger, most symptoms will pass after one to two weeks.

Discomfort situated in the upper-left abdominal cavity is possible since the spleen may be enlarged during Mononucleosis. Strep throat may be paired with Mononucleosis infections. Although strep throat can be treated with antibiotics, EBV has none that targets it.



Treating Mononucleosis

For the most part, allowing Mononucleosis to disappear on its own is the only option available. Those affected are usually recommended to find ways of securing comfort while the condition runs its course. Measures include drinking liquids frequently, resting as much as is possible and using pain relievers that contain ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Due to a (rare) link between aspirin and Reye’s syndrome when it is administered to persons with viral infections that are acute, aspirin should not be used.

However, if enlarged spleen is ruptured or swelling of tonsils restrict swallowing or breathing, the treatment received will be more intensive. Indications of a ruptured spleen include sudden pain that is persistent. If damaged, the organ can be repaired or completely removed. To protect the spleen and avoid this complication, it is best to engage in only light activities. Rigorous playing and contact sports should be avoided for 3 to 4 weeks after infection.



Follow all instructions given by a physician since treatment (whether medical or otherwise) will differ based on the severity of the infection. Mononucleosis’ ability to continue affecting victims is unclear. There are some unsubstantiated speculations that it may be a contributing factor to chronic fatigue experience in teens and adults (who are not engaged in rigorous activities).

Transmission of Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis can be transmitted via salivary secretions hence is referred to as the “kissing disease” however, there is no indication that it is contagious. Still, it is best to avoid using utensils or allowing unaffected persons to come in contact with the saliva of some-one that is infected.



The body’s immunity can be ascertained by doing antibody tests.