Symptoms of Infectious Mononucleosis

Symptoms of Infectious Mononucleosis

More commonly known as 'mono', infectious mononucleosis is a viral disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and is spread through saliva (thus the nick-name 'kissing disease'). This article highlights the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2018
Infectious Mononucleosis is a viral disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The virus is spread through saliva, and in rare instances, through blood transfusion. It is mostly diagnosed in adolescents and young adults, mostly in the age groups of 15 to 17. It is not a fatal disease, and the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis resolve within a month or two.

Alternative Names
  • Mono
  • Glandular fever
  • The kissing disease
  • Pfeiffer's disease

Initial Stages
  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Sudden lack of energy
  • Chills
  • Puffy and swollen eyes
These initial signs last from 1 to 3 days after which the following more pronounced ones appear.

Later Stages
  • Severe sore throat
  • High fever
  • Swollen neck lymph glands
Usually, the sore throat is so severe that the person is forced to visit the physician.

Other Indications
  • Very red throat
  • Very red tonsils or tonsils having a white coating
  • Swollen neck lymph glands
  • Almost half of those suffering will have an enlarged or swollen spleen
  • In some cases, the liver could be enlarged
  • Mild jaundice
  • Few will get a red rash just like measles all over the body
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Dry irritating cough
  • Weakness
  • Body pain
The symptoms will usually resolve within a month or two, but the EBV could remain dormant in a few cells of the throat or in the blood for life.

Most of the people who have had this problem once are not at risk of the infection again when they come in contact with someone who could spread it. It is believed that the spreading of this infection is rare through blood or saliva in the air (coughing, sneezing), and requires a more direct contact with the infected saliva.

The time from infection to appearance of the symptoms (incubation period) varies from 4 to 6 weeks. Persons infected could spread it even during this period without knowing it. The culprit virus is also sometimes found in perfectly healthy persons from where it can spread to others. Due to these reasons, containing the virus and infection is not possible.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis is usually based on reported symptoms along with a physical examination. If there is doubt in the physicians mind, a white blood cell count or an antibody test could be conducted. The common tests for EBV could include one or more of the following.
  • Monospot Test (Positive for Infectious Mononucleosis)
  • Epstein-Barr virus antigen by immunofluorescence (Positive for EBV)
  • Epstein-Barr virus antibody titers to help distinguish acute infection from past infection with EBV
The treatment usually adapted consists of corticosteroids for reducing the swelling of the throat and tonsils. Besides this sufficient rest is advised so as to facilitate the body's immune system to destroy the virus and regain lost strength.

During this time, the symptoms can be relived by a warm water gargle to relieve the sore throat, and drinking plenty of warm fluids.

In most of the cases, there is no need to worry. The fever should go within 10 days and the swollen lymph glands and spleen (if swollen) should heal perfectly within 4 to 5 weeks.

If you are aware that someone close to you is infected with 'mono', avoid kissing (even a mild peck) and sharing the same utensils; you may just save yourself from contracting the disease.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.