In This Article
In This Article
Infectious mononucleosis or mono is a contagious disease caused by several viruses. It’s a common infection that affects nearly 95% of adults worldwide.1
Most people aren’t severely affected by mono and feel okay without treatment. But some signs of infectious mono may bring discomfort and interfere with your daily activities.
If you get infected by mono, you must be wary of related health problems like an enlarged spleen. Drinking lots of fluids and getting plenty of rest can help you recover from mono.
The most common cause of infectious mono is the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It belongs to the herpes virus family, also knowns as human herpes virus type 4.
EBV can lead to symptom-free mono and rarely causes health problems. But it can also trigger symptoms in some people.
Once you have this bug, it stays inactive or dormant in your throat or blood cells. The virus can reactivate at any point in your life and repeatedly cause symptoms.1
Another virus that causes infectious mono is the cytomegalovirus (CMV). It's another type of human herpesvirus that is milder than EBV.
But other viruses can give you infectious mono, too.
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Health experts call infectious mono the kissing disease for a reason. It’s because saliva can spread the virus.
You can transmit it through coughing or sneezing. But you can also catch it in other ways, like sharing food utensils with someone infected.
Other bodily fluids such as semen and blood may also transmit the viruses that cause mono. Sexual contact or blood transfusions with an infected person can put you at risk of getting it.2
Anyone can get mono, no matter their age. Children, adolescents, and young adults are at higher risk of catching mono.
Most people acquire mono during early school age. Young children often have no symptoms, so the infection usually goes undetected.
About 1 in 4 adults in their 20s are more likely to get EBV. This can lead to infectious mono.
Your symptoms may show up 4 to 6 weeks after your first exposure to the virus. They may come out gradually. But there are times when they don’t appear at all.
Infected people may show different signs. But the most common mono symptoms are:
Mono symptoms like fever and sore throat usually subside after 2 to 4 weeks. But some people experience fatigue and swollen lymph nodes for much longer.
On rare occasions, the signs of infectious mono can last up to 6 months or more.
Although the symptoms of mono bring discomfort, the infection resolves on its own. It also doesn’t leave behind any long-term effects on your health.3
Your doctor will initially perform a physical exam. They will check for swollen lymph nodes on your neck, armpits, and groins. They will also assess for an enlarged liver or spleen.
Afterward, they may order testing to confirm a mono diagnosis. Mono diagnostic testing is a blood test that looks for heterophils in your blood.
Heterophils are antibodies your body produces when there’s a presence of EBV. You can get tested for mono at your doctor’s office, clinic, hospital, or any other medical setting that offers it.
Here are the types of mono lab tests:
If you can’t visit a clinic or a hospital, you may also try at-homo mono tests. There are home testing kits you can buy online, which will require you to collect a blood sample.
Mono is a viral infection, so antibiotics will not help clear the virus. You should avoid self-medicating with penicillins like ampicillin or amoxicillin.
That said, your doctor may suggest treatments for organs affected by the virus. The following tips will help relieve your infectious mono symptoms:
Your spleen may remain swollen or enlarged after you recover. So you must avoid any strenuous activities that may cause it to rupture.
The virus that causes mono is passed on through saliva. The virus can live in your mouth and saliva for months, even if you’re symptom-free.4
If you think you’re infected, you must avoid kissing or sharing these:
Always wash your hands with soap and water to help prevent the transmission of the virus. Currently, there is no vaccine against infectious mono.
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