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Infectious Mononucleosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Oct 23, 2023

Infectious Mononucleosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Infectious mononucleosis, or "mono," is referred to as "kissing disease." Mono is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which is spread through saliva. Sharing a drink or eating utensils with someone who has mono can also expose you to the virus, although kissing is the most common way. Mononucleosis, on the other hand, is less contagious than some other illnesses, such as the common cold.

Mononucleosis, with all of its symptoms, is more common among adolescents and young adults. Little toddlers usually show very few symptoms, and the infection is often not recognized.

It is imperative to be cognizant of possible outcomes such as an enlarged spleen if you have mononucleosis. 

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Causes Of Infectious Mononucleosis

While the Epstein-Barr virus is the most common cause of mononucleosis, similar symptoms can also be caused by other viruses. Since this virus is spread by saliva, you could get infected by kissing someone or exchanging food or drinks.

Although mononucleosis has painful symptoms, it is a temporary condition that resolves on its own. Because they have been exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus, the majority of people have produced antibodies against it. Because of this, they are immune and won't have mononucleosis.

Symptoms Of Infectious Mononucleosis

Signs and symptoms of mononucleosis may include:

  • Tiredness
  • Sore throat that may be mistaken for strep throat and does not go away even after taking medicine
  • Fever
  • Swollen tonsils, and lymph nodes in your neck and beneath your arms
  • Head Ache
  • A soft, swollen, and itchy skin rash

The virus takes four to six weeks to incubate, though it can take less time in young infants. The term "incubation period" refers to the length of time following viral exposure before symptoms appear. Common symptoms that pass after a few weeks include fever and sore throat. But symptoms including fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and a bloated spleen may persist for a few more weeks.

Diagnosis Of Infectious Mononucleosis

Physical Examination

Your doctor might suspect mononucleosis based on a physical examination, your symptoms, their duration, and your signs and symptoms. He or she will look for signs such as enlarged lymph nodes, liver, spleen, or tonsils and assess how these relate to the symptoms you have mentioned.

Blood Testing

Antibodies assay: If additional evidence is needed, a mono spot test may be run to check your blood for Epstein-Barr virus antibodies. In a day, the screening test results will be available. It might not, however, pick up the infection during the first week of the illness. Even in the first week of symptoms, an additional antibody test can detect the sickness, albeit findings take longer to come in.

White blood cell count: Your doctor may order additional blood tests to look for abnormally appearing lymphocytes or an increased quantity of white blood cells, or lymphocytes. These blood tests cannot confirm mononucleosis, but they may increase the likelihood.

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Treatment Of Infectious Mononucleosis

For the treatment of infectious mononucleosis, there is no particular medication available. Antibiotics are ineffective against viral illnesses like mono. The primary focus of treatment is self-care, which includes getting enough sleep, maintaining a good diet, and drinking lots of water. For the treatment of a fever or sore throat, you can use over-the-counter painkillers.


Managing additional complications and recurrent infections. The sore throat associated with mononucleosis can occasionally coexist with a streptococcal (strep) infection. Additionally, you can get tonsillitis or an infection of the tonsils. If this is the case, you might require antibiotic treatment for various bacterial infections that go hand in hand.

Corticosteroids can be used to treat severe airway constriction.

Some medicines carry a rash risk. Mononucleosis patients shouldn't take amoxicillin or any other antibiotics, even those derived from penicillin. Taking one of these medications can indeed cause rashes in certain mononucleosis patients. It is not always the case that the rash indicates an allergy to the antibiotic. To treat infections that may accompany mononucleosis, other drugs that are less likely to result in a rash are available if necessary.

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Prevention Of Infectious mononucleosis

Transmission of mononucleosis occurs through saliva. If you have the virus, avoid kissing other people and, if possible, wait to share food, beverages, plates, and utensils until a few days after your fever has gone down to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. Additionally, remember that washing your hands frequently will prevent the virus from spreading.

The Epstein-Barr virus can linger in your saliva for months after an infection. To protect against mononucleosis, there is no vaccine.

Complications Of Infectious mononucleosis

Mononucleosis can occasionally result in serious consequences.

Enlargement of the spleen

Mononucleosis may be the cause of spleen enlargement. In extreme cases, a ruptured spleen may cause sudden, excruciating pain on the left side of your upper abdomen. Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing this type of pain as you may require surgery.

Enlarged spleen

The spleen is a small organ, about the size of your fist, on average. Many diseases, including certain forms of cancer and liver disease, can cause your spleen to enlarge.

Liver problems

Other possible issues with the liver include:

  • Influenza A may result in hepatitis or mild inflammation of the liver.
  • Additionally, jaundice a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes can occasionally occur.

Less frequent side effects of mononucleosis can also include:

  • Reduced red blood cells and hemoglobin, the iron-rich protein found in red blood cells, are symptoms of anemia.
  • Low platelet counts, which are blood cells involved in clotting, are known as thrombocytopenia.
  • Heart issues myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Nervous system complications, such as meningitis, encephalitis, and Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Inflamed tonsils that may obstruct breathing

In individuals with compromised immune systems, the Epstein-Barr virus can result in far more severe illnesses. Those with HIV/AIDS or those using medications to reduce immunity following organ transplantation are examples of individuals with compromised immune systems.

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