~~Mononucleosis, commonly known as mono or the kissing disease, is a fairly common illness. By age forty, as many as 85-90% of American Adults have antibodies for Epstein-Barr. Caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, its symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness, sore throat, and fever. In some cases, it causes your spleen to swell. (If you have sudden, severe pain in your upper abdomen, this may indicate a spleen rupture, and you should visit the emergency room immediately!) Mono is very slow moving, taking up to six weeks to surface after exposure, and requiring two to four weeks for symptoms to subside. Even once the sore throat and fever subside, the weakness can hang around for months!
Called the “Kissing disease” due to the way it transfers, via saliva and mucus, it is important to be mindful of yourself if you feel the above symptoms. Avoid kissing, sharing glasses, toothbrushes, silverware, or anything else that comes in contact with your saliva. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You wouldn’t want to pass something like this onto a loved one!
Although mono is often diagnosed by blood test, self-care is usually all that is required to treat the illness. Lots of rest, staying hydrated, acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lower your fever and relieve headaches, and lozenges or a salt-water gargle for your throat should be all you need to recover. Be sure to avoid any heavy lifting, as an enlarged spleen can burst if you strain too hard. In more severe cases, corticosteroids may be used to reduce inflammation of the throat, tonsils, or spleen.
Once you are over mono, the virus will remain inactive within you for the rest of your life, and it may reactivate from time to time. The good news is, as long as you have a healthy immune system, you shouldn’t have to re-experience the symptoms. The bad news is, while the virus is active, you are contagious to people with suppressed immune systems. So be especially careful around cancer patients and the elderly.
Mono isn’t fun, but luckily in most cases, it isn’t serious. Be conscious of your symptoms, and if you start to feel fatigued with a sore throat, keep this article in mind so you don’t get anyone else sick. If you do start to feel under the weather, come on down to the Urgent Care and we will get you taken care of!