Mononucleosis, also known as "mono" or the “kissing disease", is an infection frequently seen in teens. It can, however, cause illness in younger children. It is such a common virus that 95% of adults 35 years of age have been exposed to it even though not every person will experience symptoms. The virus is found in the saliva and is transmitted through kissing, sharing drinking glasses or straws or other eating utensils. It can even be transmitted by sharing lipstick or lip gloss with an infected person. Once a person has been infected, he/she will carry the virus for the rest of their lives and have life-long immunity.
Symptoms of mononucleosis:
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph glands
- Swollen tonsils
- Skin rash
- Loss of appetite
- Soft, swollen spleen
- Night sweats
Diagnosis is most often based on symptoms. Lab tests can be performed including a blood test and a “mono-spot” test. Most people feel better in 1 to 2 weeks, but symptoms can last for 4 months or more and may, occasionally, become chronic.
Treatment involves getting plenty of rest and drinking adequate fluids to avoid dehydration.
Symptoms may be treated as necessary:
- Tylenol or ibuprofen for aches and fever
- Drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Stay home until the fever is gone
Due to the risk of injuring the spleen, which becomes enlarged, contact sports and vigorous activity should be avoided. This includes activities like football, soccer, basketball, cheerleading, wrestling, boxing, etc.
Although transmission is almost impossible to prevent and no special precautions or isolation measures are necessary, there are ways to try to prevent spreading the disease to others.
- Wash hands frequently
- Cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Don’t share drinks or eating utensils