Mononucleosis

(Infectious Mononucleosis; Mono)

Definition

Mononucleosis is an infectious disease that is associated with fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph glands.
Swollen Glands
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Causes

Mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Found mainly in saliva and mucus, EBV is passed from person to person by intimate behavior, such as kissing.

Risk Factors

Many people get EBV during their lifetime. Factors that increase the likelihood that EBV will develop into mononucleosis include:
  • Contracting EBV after age 10
  • Lowered immune resistance due to other illness, stress, or fatigue
  • Living in close quarters with a large number of people, such as in a college dormitory
One episode of mononucleosis usually produces permanent immunity.

Symptoms

Signs of mononucleosis usually begin 4-7 weeks after you were exposed to the virus. The initial symptoms may be a sense of general weakness that lasts about one week. This is followed by symptoms that may include:
  • High fever
  • Severe sore throat/swollen tonsils
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Enlargement of the spleen or liver
  • Mild jaundice

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis is based on:
  • Symptoms, which can differ according to age; young children may be difficult to diagnose
  • Four primary symptoms:
  • Two primary tests:
    • Blood tests and mono spot tests
    • Throat culture—to check for strep throat , which can resemble mononucleosis and also complicate mononucleosis

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