“Mono” refers to infectious mononucleosis, a contagious infection that can cause fever, sore throat, fatigue, and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck. Commonly called “the kissing disease,” mono often affects adolescents and young adults.
Mononucleosis is generally not considered a serious illness and most people recover completely within one to four weeks without any complications. Some people may continue to feel fatigue for several more weeks. Rarely, symptoms of mono last six months or more.
What Are Symptoms of Mono?
Symptoms of mono (infectious mononucleosis) may come on slowly and usually develop four to eight weeks after infection and may include:
What Causes Mono?
- Mono (infectious mononucleosis) is most commonly caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
- The virus is usually spread through bodily fluids, especially saliva, through kissing (mono is often called “the kissing disease”), sharing eating utensils, or drinking from the same glass as someone infected with the virus. It can also be spread through blood and semen during sexual contact, blood transfusions, and organ transplantations.
- People are often exposed to EBV during childhood, although they may not realize it at the time because they may not have symptoms or symptoms are mild.
How Is Mono Diagnosed?
- Mono (infectious mononucleosis) is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination. The diagnosis is often based on symptoms and lab tests are generally not needed.
- Sometimes a blood test called the Monospot is used to confirm a diagnosis. However, the Monospot test often comes back with false negatives early in the illness so it’s not always reliable.
- In some cases, additional blood tests may be used to identify the cause of illness in people who do not have typical cases of infectious mononucleosis.
What Is the Treatment for Mono?
Treatment for mono (infectious mononucleosis) is usually aimed at relief of symptoms.
Home remedies to relieve symptoms of mono may include:
- Drinking fluids
- Getting plenty of rest
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications for pain and fever
- Avoid contact sports until you fully recover
- Mono may cause the spleen to become enlarged and strenuous activities such as sports may cause the spleen to rupture
Antibiotics are not used to treat mono, because it is caused by a virus. There are currently no antiviral medications that are effective to treat or cure Epstein-Barr virus.
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