Epstein-Barr syndrome is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is responsible for various infectious diseases including mononucleosis and certain types of the cancers. This HealthHearty article consists of some essential information that you should know for precautionary measures.
Epstein-Barr syndrome is another name for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection. It was discovered in the year 1964 by two scientists named Sir Michael Anthony Epstein and Yvonne Barr, hence gaining its name ‘Epstein-Barr virus’. You would be shocked to know that approximately 95% of the total population has been affected by the EBV in the United States itself! It is believed that this virus attacks almost each and everyone at some point of their lives, usually during childhood or early adulthood. It is considered to be the main cause of the mononucleosis infection and certain types of cancers including Burkitt’s lymphomas and nasopharyngeal caricoma.
The virus belongs to the herpes family and can be transferred even to infants from their mother, with mostly no symptoms of illness. However, if it is contracted later on, during adolescence or adulthood, then the person has high chances of developing illnesses. If the virus ends up staying in the body for more than 6 months, then the condition is known as chronic Epstein-Barr syndrome.
It is caused by transmission of the EBV, a contagious virus that spreads from one human being to another. If a person is the carrier of this causative agent, then it is not necessary that he or she will have an illness. EBV may remain in the body of the person throughout their life, without causing any trouble. This virus multiplies itself in the white blood cells known as lymphocytes, as well as the other cells.
It can spread to other humans through kissing, sharing food, cigarettes, drinks, or any medium through which the contaminated saliva or fluid can enter the body of a healthy person. This organism usually remains in the lining of the mouth, nose, and the tongue. At times, it can get reactivated and cause symptoms, however, this usually happens when the carrier person has a weak immune system.
It may take about 6 to 7 days for the symptoms to show up after the virus enters the body, however, they may not always visible. The main disease that can be caused by EBV is mononucleosis. Some symptoms include –
- Swollen tonsils
- Appetite loss
- Kidney diseases
- Liver problems
- Excessive sweating
- Swelling in the spleen
- Abdominal pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Enlarged spleen
In rare scenarios, EBV may also result in the following complications.
- Infection in the spinal cord
- Meningitis, which is the term for inflammation of the brain lining
- Encephalitis, or brain inflammation
- Heart problems
- Lung diseases
- White plaque on the side of the tongue, also known as oral hairy leukoplakia
- Increase in the number of lymphocytes in the body, also known as X-linked lymphoproliferative syndrome
Many times, people with Epstein-Barr virus experience no symptoms, and sometimes they may just have fatigue and headache, which is something that we deal with almost every other day. However, elevated symptoms do need medical attention. Your doctor may advise tests such as blood tests and antibodies test to check the presence of the virus in the body.
The treatment would depend upon the severity of the condition and the relevant signs and symptoms that are visible. These include some over-the-counter pills, prescription drugs, and proper rest. For example, if the person has excessive swelling in the throat, then the doctor may prescribe certain corticosteroids. On the other hand, symptoms caused by oral hairy leukoplakia can be treated by consuming certain antiviral drugs.
Considering the fact that almost 95% of the population in the U.S. has this virus, it wouldn’t be a practical idea to suggest preventive measures. Educating ourselves about it will surely help in dealing with its troublesome consequences in a better way.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a replacement for expert medical advice.