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Mononucleosis (Mono)

Last updated on Sunday, December 23, 2012

What is mono?

Mono, or mononucleosis, is primarily caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The effect of this disease can last for several weeks, making patients feel very weak and tired. One may not exhibit symptoms of mono until about 4 to 6 weeks after the initial exposure.

It is easy to confuse mono with other infectious diseases like the flu or the cold, because early on mono has very similar symptoms to other diseases, such as high fever, sore throat, cough, and fatigue. Often it is necessary to have a medical professional examine the patient to confirm it is mono: this involves a careful inspection of the tonsils and glands and a blood test.

One of the main concerns for mono is that it causes the spleen, an organ located in the upper left abdomen, to swell. Trauma with the abdomen can cause the spleen to burst, which is a medical emergency. That is the reason that it is important to avoid sports and heavy lifting during the recovery process, which typically takes about four to six weeks, or whatever period of time your health care provider suggests.

How common is mono?

Most people have already been infected with EBV before, which means that symptoms will not come back if one has already been infected with the virus (most of the time, infection causes no symptoms). However, the virus stays in the body even if one has no symptoms or gets better, so when the virus becomes active, it can be spread to others even though the carrier will not feel sick.

What should I do if my roommate or my partner has mono?

There is no need to panic if someone close to you has mono, because it cannot be spread through air. It may, however, be spread through saliva, mucus, and even tears. So less mouth-to-mouth contact and no sharing of utensils or other items are great prevention methods.

What should I do if I have mono?

Treatments include resting, taking Tylenol®, Advil®, and avoiding sports. General home treatments can be used to sooth the throat as well. The general recommendations for treating mono are similar to those for treating flu except that exercising can be harmful if you have mono. Of course, if you are ever concerned about your symptoms, contact a health care provider. Do not take antibiotics if you have mono, because they do not work against viruses!

Is there any food I should eat or avoid?

No research has shown that you need to avoid certain foods if you have mono. Nevertheless, you should eat healthfully. Moreover, consuming alcohol can be harmful if you are sick.

Tags: kissingmonomononucleosis


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