What is mononucleosis?
Mononucleosis is an illness caused by a virus. It is often referred to as “mono.” Mononucleosis is most common in adolescents and young adults. The illness is usually mild and resolves on its own, but in some cases it can cause serious complications with the liver or spleen. The virus can also cause severe illness in people with weak immune systems.
What are the symptoms of mononucleosis?
Signs and symptoms of mononucleosis can include:
- sore throat
- fatigue (feeling tired)
- swollen glands in your neck and armpits
- sore throat and white patches on the back of your throat
- swollen tonsils
- skin rash
- in some cases a soft, swollen spleen
In young children, the infection can be very mild and more difficult to recognize.
You should see a health care provider if the illness seems to be causing more serious symptoms.
How is mononucleosis spread?
Mononucleosis is spread from person to person through contact with saliva from an infected person. It is spread through kissing and by sharing items in contact with saliva such as drinking glasses, water bottles, eating utensils or toothbrushes. The virus can also be spread to very young children through saliva on toys, or on the hands of caregivers.
Usually it takes four to six weeks to show symptoms after getting infected. The virus can be present in the fluids from the nose and throat of an infected person while they are sick and for several months after the symptoms have gone away.
How is mononucleosis treated?
There is no specific treatment for mononucleosis. Recovery usually occurs in a few weeks, but a small number of individuals can take months to regain their energy levels. The more rest you get, the sooner you should recover.
Sometimes medication is given to ease symptoms such as swelling and soreness of the throat.
To avoid rupturing your spleen, wait at least one month before returning to vigorous activities, heavy lifting or contact sports. Rupture of the spleen causes severe bleeding and is a medical emergency. Speak to a health care provider about when and how to resume your normal level of activity.
You can treat mild symptoms at home.
How is mononucleosis prevented?
Simple preventative measures can reduce the spread of infection.