Mono

Rest is Best

Definition

Infectious mononucleosis (mono) is often called the kissing disease. The virus that causes mono is transmitted through saliva, so you can get it through kissing, but you can also be exposed through a cough or sneeze, or by sharing a glass or food utensils with someone who has mono. However, mononucleosis isn't as contagious as some infections, such as the common cold.

Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • General feeling of unwellness (malaise)
  • Sore throat, perhaps a strep throat that doesn't get better with antibiotic use
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck and armpits
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Headache
  • Skin rash
  • Soft, swollen spleen

Causes

The cause of mononucleosis is the Epstein-Barr virus.

Mononucleosis usually isn't very serious. Most adults have been exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus and have built up antibodies. They're immune and won't get mononucleosis again.

Treatment

There's no specific therapy available to treat infectious mononucleosis. Antibiotics don't work against viral infections such as mono. Treatment mainly involves bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids.

Medications

  • Treating secondary infections. Occasionally, a streptococcal (strep) infection accompanies the sore throat of mononucleosis. You may also develop a sinus infection or an infection of your tonsils (tonsillitis). If so, you may need treatment with antibiotics for these accompanying bacterial infections.

Prevention

Mononucleosis is spread through saliva. If you're infected, you can help prevent spreading the virus to others by not kissing them and by not sharing food, dishes, glasses and utensils until several days after your fever has subsided and even longer, if possible.

The Epstein-Barr virus may persist in your saliva for months after the infection. No vaccine exists to prevent mononucleosis.

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