Infectious mononucleosis, which is more commonly referred to as mono, is a virus. It is quite common and many young children who contract it do not show any symptoms at all. This is not true for people who are older, and it usually results in missed days at school or work.
How Does It Occur?
Epstein-Barr virus is what causes infectious mono to occur. It is commonly spread through contact with infected saliva, which is why many people call it the “kissing disease.” Other ways it can be spread include sharing utensils, sneezing and coughing.
The virus is most infectious from the time you start to show symptoms until the fever that often accompanies the virus is gone.
It can take some time for symptoms to occur after contracting mono. In fact, it can take about a month for them to appear. The initial symptoms people usually experience are:
- elevated temperature
- sore muscles
Most people notice the symptoms of fatigue first. People who have mono can sleep as much as 12-16 hours each day.
After experiencing the above symptoms for several days, people start to notice new symptoms. These include:
- sore throat
- swelling of the tonsils (normally accompanied by a yellow-white coating)
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck area
Additional symptoms people experience include:
- loss of appetite
- feelings of nausea
- sore joints
- the appearance of a red rash on the chest (can affect the mouth as well)
When you meet with your doctor at Central Illinois Urgent Care, you will be asked questions about how you are feeling and you will be given an examination. The provider will be looking for signs of any of the symptoms that were mentioned above.
At Central Illinois Urgent Care we offer a rapid Mono test that provides us with immediate results.
There are no drugs on the market that have been specifically formulated to treat mono. Since this is a viral infection, antibiotics do not offer much help at all. The best thing to do would be to try to get plenty of rest.
There are some instances when mono can cause the tonsils to become so inflamed that they block the air passages. If this is the case for you, the Urgent Care provider you see may give you some steroids since this will help return them to their normal size. You have to be careful with steroids since they can have serious side effects if used for an extended period. It is important for you to be diligent and take them as directed. Do not take it for any longer than directed and consume the proper dosage each time. It is not advisable to stop taking them without getting the okay from your provider. It is often advised that people slowly lower their dosage until they are no longer taking it.
What Is The Normal Duration Of The Illness?
The initial symptoms tend to last for one or two weeks; however, people tend to experience fatigue for weeks or even months. It takes a bit of time before you will be able to resume all of your normal activities.
A rare complication of mono is the presence of one or more abscesses on the tonsils. If this occurs, it can be extremely painful and make it very difficult to swallow. In this case, a patient is given antibiotics. It may be necessary for a surgeon to surgically drain the abscesses.
Another rare symptom that can occur in some patients is the rupture of the spleen. The liver and the spleen usually become quite enlarged due to the infection in the body. If this swelling becomes too bad, it can cause the spleen to burst. This is more likely to happen if you are hit in the abdomen while sick, which is why you should speak with your provider if you plan to participate in any sports. A ruptured spleen generally causes severe pain in the stomach and the patient becomes lightheaded. If you experience one or both of these symptoms, you need to seek medical attention right away.
Even though it may take weeks or months for all traces of the virus to leave your system, you become far less contagious after the initial fever has died away, which is usually after a few days.
The Epstein-Barr virus remains in the body even after you are no longer ill. This means that it is possible for you to get mono again, but it is not very likely.
How Do I Take Care Of Myself?
Follow any and all directions given to you by your Central Illinois Urgent Care provider.
Get plenty of rest.
You can take ibuprofen to treat the achy muscles, sore throat and fever. Do not take more than you are directed to. The risks associated with ibuprofen increase as you get older. Unless you are told otherwise by your doctor, do not take it for more than 10 days. Double-check with a doctor before administering medications to your teen or child that contain salicylates and/or aspirin. These medicines include cold remedies, baby aspirin and Pepto-Bismol.
Drink plenty of fluids.
Do not indulge in alcohol when you have mono. This can inflame the liver and cause some serious damage.
Do not do any heavy lifting or any other activities that require a large amount of contact and/or quick movements. As was mentioned above, being hit or under too much strain can cause your spleen to rupture. This can cause internal bleeding and is considered a severe medical emergency. Your provider can let you know how long you will have to refrain from these activities.
Call 911 right away of you experience any of the following:
- Sudden, intense pain in the stomach
- Difficulty breathing
- Problems swallowing and/or drooling
Come to Central Illinois Urgent Care if:
- You notice a blue tint on your skin and/or fingernails
- Your body temperature is above 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit
- You experience chills, vomiting, nausea or muscle pain
- You notice no improvement after 2-3 weeks
How Can I Avoid Passing It Along To Others?
The best way for you to stop people around you from becoming sick would be to keep them from coming in contact with your saliva. Kissing, food sharing, and allowing any containers or utensils you have used to be reused is the best way to avoid passing it on to anyone.