Mononucleosis is a disease that shares many names, such as infectious mononucleosis, Pfeiffer’s disease, glandular fever, the “kissing” disease or simply “mono”. The disease is caused by the EBV (Epstein Barr) virus, a potent and highly contagious agent that causes and spreads infectious mononucleosis.
Contagious The virus can spread from one person to another through blood or saliva (hence the term “kissing disease”) and it usually affects teenagers, but cases of adult mononucleosis can also be seen occasionally.
However, infectious mononucleosis doesn’t always need such direct contact in order to spread, sometimes even coughing, eating with the same silverware or drinking from the same cup can transmit it to a new body. Needless to say that general hygiene is extremely important in the prevention of infectious mononucleosis.
The biggest concern about infectious mononucleosis is the fact that its symptoms are very easily mistaken to those of a cold, especially in the first 4-6 weeks, while the disease is still in incubation. As it is usually accompanied by a sore throat, fever and a general state of fatigue, infectious mononucleosis will, on most occasions, be treated with normal cold or flu medicine that will not be effective.
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- Abdominal pain
- Malformations to the spleen
A few sporadic mononucleosis symptoms may also include abdominal pain, headaches, aching muscles, loss of appetite, depression, weakness, dizziness or malformations to the spleen and liver in the worst cases. Actually, it’s these two last symptoms that make infectious mononucleosis so dangerous, since it can cause ruptures to the spleen and hepatitis.
It’s important to understand that a person can be infected even if he doesn’t show signs of a particular symptom. Even with adult mononucleosis, the EBV virus can infect a body and stay dormant for several months, without triggering the actual disease. This however, does not stop it from spreading itself further on.
Infectious mononucleosis is usually treated in accordance to the symptoms it enables, so if a patient is suffering from high fever, the treatment will contain Paracetamol or some other fever-reducing drug. Anti-inflammatory drugs are also used in order to reduce muscle pains. In addition, during the mononucleosis treatment (which usually lasts until the acute symptoms of the infectious mononucleosis have been resolved) the patient will have to get lots and lots of rest in order to deal with the fatigue.
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After the acute symptoms are gone, mononucleosis treatment usually follows for a few more weeks and you can get back to your normal lifestyle. However, it’s recommended that heavy physical activity and sports are avoided for at least 1 month after the treatment has started, since the spleen might still be enlarged by the disease and there will still be a risk of rupture.
Since infectious mononucleosis can spread so easily, through such casual, day-by-day events such as kissing, coughing or sneezing it’s sometimes very hard to prevent it from spreading in households. To avoid the risk of getting infected with mononucleosis, you and everyone you come into contact with needs to respect a few general hygiene measures such as washing hands before eating, not coughing or sneezing out in the open and as much as possible, avoiding to eat/drink off the same silverware.