Infectious mononucleosis, also known as the kissing disease or mono, can be described as a condition caused by the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). This ailment is characterized by a sore throat, fever, malaise and weakness. The virus, which is a member of the Herpes virus family, is mainly transferred from one person to the other, through saliva and therefore you can contract this disease if you kiss someone who has already been infected. Though kissing is one of the most common ways for the EBV to spread, it is not the only way. You could also be exposed to the mono-causing virus in case you share food or utensils with an infected person. Fortunately, mono is not as contagious as some of the other similar infections, which include the common cold. In fact, most adults have been exposed to the virus at some time or the other and have developed antibodies towards it.
It is quite unlikely for you to experience the symptoms of mono immediately after exposure to the virus, as an incubation period of between 4 to 8 weeks is normal. However, younger children may show the symptoms a bit faster as compared to adults. In fact, since young kids have symptoms that are less severe, this condition may go unnoticed in them.
In most instances mononucleosis is not very severe and gets resolved on its own within a few weeks. However, it is possible to suffer from chronic mono, which lasts for more than two or three weeks. Although, it is possible for mono to be recurrent, which means that you may get a relapse, after the condition is cured. In case you have a weakened immune system because of any health condition then the illness could be a bit more serious. This is also applicable if you are on any drugs to suppress your immune system, after an organ transplant.
It is very important for you to be careful of certain complications that can arise from mono, such as an enlarged spleen or liver problems. Some of the less severe complications that have also been known to arise from the EBV include anemia, thrombocytopenia, heart inflammation, encephalitis, meningitis, Guillain-Barre syndrome and swollen tonsils.
There are several symptoms that may be evident in those who are afflicted with mono. However, it takes anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks for the symptoms to appear. Given below are some of the most common signs and symptoms for mononucleosis:
Infants and toddlers can also suffer from mono, but in such cases the symptoms are a little more subtle. Apart from the more common symptoms, babies may also show increased irritability. Some of them may refuse to eat or drink milk as normal.
Unfortunately, the symptoms for mononucleosis are not exclusive and can be observed in many other health conditions. This is probably why the condition is not easily detected in younger people. Some of the symptoms, like fever, sore throat and headaches last for a week or so, after which they abate or disappear completely. However, the signs like fatigue and swollen lymph nodes usually last a bit longer. It could be a few weeks before they finally disappear.
A soft and swollen spleen could also be one of the symptoms of mononucleosis. This is usually characterized by soreness, pain and tenderness in the upper left part of your belly. Severe mono could cause your spleen to rupture or burst which is very dangerous and requires immediate medical attention. Therefore, you need to visit the emergency room in case you have mono accompanied by severe pain in the upper left part of the abdominal region.
The Epstein Barr Virus is what leads to mononucleosis and it can be found throughout the world. Although this virus can infect just about anyone, mono is more common in children, teenagers, adolescents and younger adults. Studies indicate that in the United States, around 95% of the adults between the ages of 35 and 40 have already developed antibodies against EBV. This means that most of us have been infected by the virus at some time or the other. It is also important to realize that once the virus enters your body, it will always stay there. However, it remains dormant for a majority of the time, but can get active once in a while. When it is active, it can be transmitted from one person to the other, causing mono to spread.
There are many different factors that can cause the virus to spread. Mono gets transmitted through contact with infected saliva or, in some instances, tears too. Mucus from the throat or nose can also cause the virus to spread. Therefore, it is best to avoid kissing a person who has been infected. Sharing toothbrushes, eating utensils, glasses or linens with infected people should also strictly be avoided, as it could lead to mono.
There is no specific medical treatment that is recommended for mono, as antibiotics do not really help in getting rid of a virus. Therefore, it is all about self-care and the use of home remedies that can alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms. Medical treatment is only provided to control symptoms if they are threatening or if there is a risk of complications developing. Given below are a few simple and natural home remedies for mononucleosis:
Health care experts across the world stress the importance of a healthy diet for boosting the immune system and fighting off any virus. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that your health care provider may advise you to eat a higher amount of foods that improve your immune function. Given below are some of the foods that should be included in a diet for mononucleosis:
Given below are some of the additional recommendations for a mono diet:
In case you are diagnosed with mononucleosis, you need to be patient with your body, as it tries to fight off the virus and recover. However, do bear in mind that in many cases, mono can be a prolonged condition. You may end up missing school, work and social events, just so that you do not expose others to the virus. At the same time, you may also need to avoid activities like sports practices till your doctor gives you a go ahead for them.
There are also many over the counter medicines that are known to control the symptoms of mononucleosis. However, before you decide to take any of them, it is absolutely essential to consult a doctor for approval and advise on dosage and other instructions.