Mononucleosis is an infectious disease that is associated with fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph glands.
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Mononucleosis is caused by the
(EBV). Found mainly in saliva and mucus, EBV is passed from person to person by intimate behavior, such as kissing.
Many people get EBV during their lifetime. Factors that increase the likelihood that EBV will develop into mononucleosis include: Contracting EBV after age 10Lowered immune resistance due to other illness, stress, or fatigueLiving in close quarters with a large number of people, such as in a college dormitory
One episode of mononucleosis usually produces permanent immunity.
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 1 week. This is followed by symptoms that may include: High feverSevere sore throat/swollen tonsilsSwelling of the lymph nodesFatigueLoss of appetiteMuscle achesAbdominal swelling
Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes—
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
There is no treatment to cure mononucleosis or to shorten the length of the illness. It usually lasts 4-6 weeks, although the fatigue may last longer.
During the first few weeks after diagnosis, you should avoid contact sports and lifting anything heavy. Inflammation of the spleen from mononucleosis puts you at high risk of splenic rupture. This can require surgery. In rare cases, it can be fatal.
It is important to get plenty of rest. Other supportive care may involve: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofenGargling with warm, salty waterDrinking plenty of fluidsSteroids to reduce inflammation in the throat, if advised by your doctor
Most people contract the EBV virus sometime during their lives. Prevention is geared toward decreasing the likelihood that EBV will develop into mononucleosis. This can be done by: Avoiding intimate contact, especially kissing, with anyone who has active mononucleosis
healthful dietAvoiding excess stressGetting enough rest
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Ebell MH, Call M, et al. Does this patient have infectious mononucleosis?: The rational clinical examination systematic review. JAMA. 2016 Apr 12;315(14):1502-1509.
Luzuriaga K, Sullivan JL. Infectious mononucleosis.
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Mononucleosis. Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
Updated March 2014. Accessed June 9, 2015.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Marcie Sidman, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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