Working out with mono

Key Facts

  • Mono is often called the “kissing disease”.
  • You can get Mono if you come into contact with an infected person’s saliva.
  • Mono is caused by the Epstein Barr virus (EBV).
  • There is no vaccine to prevent Mono.

Have you ever heard of “the kissing disease”? Mononucleosis (pronounced mon-o-nuke-lee-o-sis, or “mono” for short) got this nickname because people can pass it through their saliva when they kiss. Kissing isn’t the only way you can catch mono, though.

What is mono?

Mono is the name of an infection that is usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). EBV is a very common virus that many people are exposed to when they’re young. The greatest number of people get mono when they are between 15 and 17 years old. Some people with EBV might not have symptoms, but may still carry the virus and infect other people, causing them to develop mono.

How does someone get mono?

Kissing a person that has the Epstein Barr virus (EBV) is just one way of getting mono. There are other ways you can get it, and they all involve coming in contact with body fluids (especially saliva) of someone who has the virus.

The virus can be passed through:

  • A drink (water bottle, cup, etc.)
  • A toothbrush
  • A fork or spoon
  • Lip balm, lip gloss, or lipstick
  • Sexual contact

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), viruses that cause mono can also be spread through blood and semen during sexual contact, blood transfusions and organ transplantations. Most often however, mono is spread through saliva.

What are the symptoms of mono?

People who have mono may have different combinations of symptoms, including:

  • Swollen glands (neck and armpits)
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Extreme tiredness/weakness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Headache
  • Sore muscles/body aches
  • Swollen spleen and/or liver (in advanced cases)

If you have a sore throat, swollen glands, and fever, see your health care provider and get checked out.

Is there a test for mono?

Your health care provider (HCP) may suggest that you are likely to have mono based on your symptoms and examination such as sore throat, swollen tonsils with white patches, swollen lymph nodes (in your neck), fever and fatigue. Your liver and spleen may be enlarged and sore, and some people get a rash especially if taking antibiotics such as amoxicillin. To make a diagnosis of mono, your HCP will check your blood count and a special “mono spot test.” This test can be negative the first week of illness and occasionally longer. This test may also stay positive for a year after mono so if your HCP is not sure about whether you have mono, he/she may order a blood test that can show whether you have antibodies against EBV (Epstein Barr Virus) which can cause mono. There are other causes of mono-like illnesses such as HIV, CMV (cytomegalovirus), other viruses, and some drugs.

How long will I be sick with mono?

If you have a fever it will usually go away within 10 days. If you have an enlarged liver or spleen, it will usually become normal in 4-6 weeks. Other mono symptoms go away after 2-4 weeks (the length of time varies for each person), but you may continue to feel very tired for about 3-6 months, or even longer. Research has shown that even when a person (who has had mono) feels better, they can still have the virus in their body for a long time.

What is the treatment for mono?

Unfortunately there isn’t a medicine or pill that can get rid of mono, but there are things you can to do feel better.

Things you can do to help yourself feel better while you have mono:

  • Get lots of rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Gargle with salt water (but don’t swallow), drink tea with honey, try throat lozenges, or suck on an ice pop if you have a sore throat
  • Ask your health care provider if you can take a small dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain or fever

When can I get back to school and sports?

You can go back to school when you feel better, which may take a few days to a few weeks. However, you’ll probably still feel tired for a few weeks. Most people get better within a month, but you may need to talk with your teachers or principal if your mono symptoms are severe and are causing you to miss a lot of school. Tell your health care provider (HCP) about all the different types of physical activities you usually participate in. Your HCP will decide what activities are safe for you to do and when. In general, most doctors agree that people who have had mono should not participate in sport activities during the first 3-4 weeks or until you are completely well, to lessen the chance of your spleen (an organ in the body that filters blood) getting hurt.

Is there any way to prevent getting mono?

You can’t always prevent getting mono, but you can lessen your chance by: not sharing your toothbrush, dishes, utensils, and water bottles, and don’t share drinks. If someone you know has mono, be very careful not to share any of these items with them and don’t kiss them either.

If I have mono, how can I prevent giving it to someone else?

To prevent giving the virus to someone else:

  • Cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze
  • Don’t share your food, drinks, eating utensils, tooth brush, or any kind of lip product
  • Don’t kiss while you are sick (mono can spread through saliva)
  • Don’t have sexual contact with someone who has mono

Even though there’s no quick way to get rid of mono, you will probably feel better in a few weeks. The good news is that once you’ve had it, you probably won’t get it again.

What Doctors Want You to Know About Recovering From Mononucleosis

Can You Work When You Have Mono? And Other FAQs

Recovering from mono can be particularly difficult for teens and young adults who aren’t used to being sick, extremely fatigued, and resting for large chunks of their days. “Young adults are psychologically not used to being tired,” says Ramilo. Getting the right support can help you cope as you heal.

Remember to talk to your supervisor at work (or teachers, if you’re in school) to let them know what’s going on and that you’ll be taking some time off. Ask your doctor for a note explaining that you have to recover from an illness that is temporarily debilitating. Tell your teachers and school that you’ll need an adjustment and allowances in your schedule and assignment due dates so that you can get extra time to complete your work. “We often write to the professors and explain that a student can’t complete an assignment on time,” says Balfour.

And remember to ask friends and family for help when you need it — whether it’s picking up groceries, or talking on the phone when you need some cheering up — or to help you in case you need more medical attention. (5)

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Mono Diagnosis and Treatment

Here are answers to some common questions when it comes to mono recovery:

Can you work when you have mono?

If you have a job that doesn’t require strenuous physical activity or manual labor, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to work and how much you can handle while recuperating, says Eric Johannsen, MD, an associate professor of infectious disease in the department of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, who researches EBV.

“We typically leave it to the individual and how he or she feels.” Adds Balfour, “I tell patients to listen to their body, and to stop working for a time if fatigue begins to interfere with work.” Balfour also advises letting your coworkers as well as your supervisor know that you have mono so that your colleagues can understand why you need to rest.

As for when to go back into the office, if someone feels up to going back to work, they should do so if they feel well enough. “Mono is not spread by casual contact so there is no reason to stay out of work due to concerns about contagion,” says Dr. Johannsen.

But I’m the lead on this really big project coming up. How about if I check in once a day to make sure my team’s on track?

While it’s fine to check in with work if you feel up to it, Johannsen says only do so if you’re actually feeling up to it. (And it may be a good idea to have someone backing you up at work for when you don’t feel up to checking in.) “I think it’s important to bear in mind that you may not be at your best while recovering from mono,” says Johannsen. “Mono is a legitimate reason to use sick leave.”

Emailing might be a good way to stay in contact for some, Johannsen says. “The recovery time can be long, it may be reasonable to do some work from home or to check in, especially if that reduces your stress.”

But the situation differs for everyone depending on how you feel and what type of work you do (and the practicality of doing it remotely or not full-time).

How long does the exhaustion from mono recovery last?

When it comes to exhaustion from mono, there’s some variability. Doctors say exhaustion can typically last for a month or two, but it’s possible for someone to only feel fatigued for a week or feel run down for as long as six months or longer.

“A minority of people can have fatigue beyond six months, though even most of them can expect to make a full recovery,” Johannsen says. “Graded exercise programs, where the person sets specific goals for increasing activity, can be very helpful here.”

I’m a marathoner. When can I get back to my training?

“I recommend that waiting until acute symptoms have resolved and fatigue is decreasing, which is usually at least a month,” Balfour says about returning to typical activity for someone who is physically active.

Doctors typically caution mono patients not to engage in any contact sports for up to four weeks after symptoms go away to reduce their risk of rupture of the spleen, but for a non-contact sport (like running) someone can typically return to training after taking it easy for about three weeks, Johannsen says. But, he adds, it’s important to “respect your limits and realize that it may not be possible to return immediately to peak activity.”

Is mono a deadly disease?

Most people with normal immune systems usually recover completely from mono without any lingering effects, says Johannsen. In a small number of patients — such as those who get mono after an organ or bone marrow transplant, or those with genetic defects in their immune systems — complications from the illness can be more serious and potentially fatal.

“The most common serious complication is splenic rupture, which can, of course, be fatal,” says Johannsen. “Throat swelling, leading to difficulty breathing, can also be life-threatening. But generally respond to corticosteroids if medical attention is sought promptly.”



HIV virus. Transmitted sexually, blood, and semen.

No special rules for air transportation of HIV / AIDS patients.

Risk of transmission:

There is no risk of transmission to other passengers or cabin crew.

Air travel:

No restrictions. It is only the patient’s clinical condition that determines form of transportation and whether an escort is necessary.



Yersinia pestis.

Risk of transmission:

Highly communicable person to person. Patients with pneumonia can cause airborne infection followed by fatal course of disease within 1-2 days.

Air travel:

Patient must be treated on the spot and must not be transported.

Viral haemorrhagic fevers


Includes a long series of diseases: Marburg disease, Ebola disease, Lassa fever, etc., involving complex diagnostic and treatment problems. Severe infections where outcome is often fatal.

Risk of transmission:

Extremely high.

Air travel:

Patient must be treated on the spot and must not be transported.

You can find Ebola Guidance for Airlines on:

Concerning multiresistant bacteria

In order to limit the introduction of MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), multiresistant pneumococci, drug-resistant group A streptococci, vancomycin-resistant strains of gram-positive pathogens, and ESBL, all patients, when transferred from a hospital abroad, should ideally be examined for these multiresistant strains, independently of their current illness. However, many hospitals do not carry out these examinations, either due to a lack of facilities, lack of awareness or for other reasons, and repatriation must be carried out anyhow. However, if such results exist, it is important that the host hospital of transmission is advised at the time of repatriation. Routinely, all hospitals in Scandinavia will examine patients repatriated from abroad for the presence of multiresistant bacteria, often by prior admission to a department of infectious diseases.

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Mono and the Study Abroad Student2 min read

Mononucleosis – better known as “mono” or “kissing disease” is a common viral illness that afflicts thousands of young adults each year. Although usually a benign condition, with symptoms of fever, headache, sore throat, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes – particularly in the neck – mononucleosis can occasionally lead to much more serious problems, and rarely even death, particularly in those with compromised immune systems such as people with HIV/AIDS or those taking drugs to suppress immunity after an organ transplant. Students abroad seem to be particularly susceptible to contracting mononucleosis. Over the past two months, HTH Worldwide has had two study abroad participants experience severe symptoms of mono. One student developed significant abdominal tenderness with an enlarged spleen and hepatitis (liver inflammation), along with anemia (a low red blood cell count), and difficulty swallowing. Her condition prompted transfer from a rural area with marginal medical facilities to an urban hospital, where she did not start improving until given very high doses of steroids. The second patient developed dehydration from an inability to swallow, along with “ataxia” (loss of coordination) due to inflammation of the cerebellum (the part of the brain responsible for balance). Indeed, patients with mononucleosis have been diagnosed with a number of other neurological complications, including Guillain-Barre syndrome (loss of motor strength similar to polio), meningitis, encephalitis, and seizures. Other rare conditions seen with

Fully I Boss. It been on nuts to damaged for even used India.

mononucleosis include pericarditis (an inflammation of the lining of the heart), thrombocytopenia (a drop in platelets – the small cells responsible for blood clotting), and airway obstruction due to extraordinary tonsil enlargement. Although some enlargement of the spleen is quite common in mononucleosis – almost fifty percent of all patients who are diagnosed with mono have some splenomegaly – life threatening splenic rupture may also occur either spontaneously or as a result of minor trauma, in a small number of cases. Mononucleosis is extremely contagious, and seems to have a predilection for groups in close confinement. In addition to kissing, the virus spreads easily from shared drinking glasses and utensils. Rarely, the virus can be contracted from a blood transfusion. Mononucleosis can remain contagious for weeks after the onset of symptoms, or even after most of the symptoms have resolved. Although there is no cure for mononucleosis, symptoms seem to improve with steroids. Other measures that help alleviate symptoms include salt water gargles and anti-inflammatory medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Aspirin should be avoided, as its use has been linked to the development of Reyes syndrome – a liver disorder- particularly in those under 21. Those infected should avoid heavy lifting or contact sports to reduce the risk of injuring the spleen. The test for mononucleosis is not universally available, and the diagnosis is often missed outside of the United States, so maintain a high index of suspicion if you are a young student heading abroad for studies or leisure. Photo by:

  • Categories: Medical Conditions, Students Abroad

Frank Gillingham, MD 2:28 pm

In the past, we’ve seen cases of swine flu, tuberculosis, measles, mumps and other highly contagious diseases traced back to one infected person on an airplane. It’s no secret that airplanes can be highly efficient places for illness and diseases to spread.

I’ve written quite a bit about the absence of common sense in many recent developments in travel, but perhaps few make so little sense as the high cost of deciding not to travel while you’re sick. While the airlines claim to be very serious about containing diseases in flight, their policies are heavily tilted to make sure you will fly or pay for it, contagious or not.

If you are not feeling well, the airline policies aren’t going to make you feel any better — the “bad medicine” of surcharges, fare difference markups and change fees conspires to make it potentially very expensive to stay home. The following guide to your rights, recourse and medical options should help the next time you are not feeling well before a trip, and are faced with the decision to fly sick — or pay dearly.

You can go back to school when your health care provider says it’s okay. This is usually when you feel much better, which may take a few days to a few weeks. However, you’ll probably still feel tired for a while. Most people get better within a month, but you may need to talk with your teachers or principal if your Mono symptoms are severe and are causing you to miss a lot of school. The good news is that once you’ve had mono, you probably won’t get it again.

Usually most teens with mono are allowed to take part in some physical activities, but NOT contact sports such as soccer, field hockey, softball or any other sport that could put you at risk of falling or bumping into another person, because this could possibly damage your spleen. Tell your health care provider about the sports that you’re involved in.

You can’t always prevent getting mono, but you can lessen your chances by doing the following:

  • Don’t share your food, drinks, eating utensils, tooth brush, or any kind of lip product
  • Don’t kiss while you are sick (Mono can spread through saliva)
  • Cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze


Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) infection, commonly known as mononucleosis or “mono”, can occur at any age, but is most common in adolescence and early adulthood. Generally, the younger a person is when they get mono the better – children are less ill and recover faster than teenagers, and teenagers in turn have an easier time than adults!

Mono proceeds in three phases. First, a prodrome lasting 1-2 weeks with few if any symptoms. Second, an acute phase lasting 2 to 6 weeks during which the individual may be very sick with fevers, swollen glands, severe sore throat, and exhaustion. And third, a convalescent phase lasting 2 to 6 months during which the acute symptoms have resolved but the patient suffers from lowered physical & mental energy, endurance, and easy fatigability. During the acute and convalescent phases, individuals are at increased risk of rupturing the spleen in the event of blunt abdominal trauma. There is no treatment other than supportive care (fluids, pain control, and fever control) during any of these phases.

In most cases, by the time mono is diagnosed it is a week or more into the acute phase. During this phase, the following measures are helpful:

  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) to bring down a fever and lessen the pain from a sore throat.
  • Gargle four times a day with warm water mixed with a teaspoon of antacid or salt.
  • If it hurts to swallow, try eating softer foods. Milkshakes and cold drinks are especially good. Avoid orange or grapefruit juice.
  • Take a multivitamin every day.
  • Do not share drinks or silverware with others.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, at least 8 glasses each day.
  • Rest when you feel tired. You do not need to stay in bed if you feel well enough to get up.

Mono is contagious, but only from close contact such as kissing, sharing utensils, or prolonged household contact. It is NOT generally transmitted through casual social contacts such as might happen in the classroom. EBV is a member of the Herpes virus family, and like other Herpes viruses after a primary infection lives in the patient’s body (inside a subset of the white blood cells) for the rest of his life.

Generally we recommend that children or teens with mono return to school during the convalescent phase, basically as soon as they “feel up to it”; but with certain modifications in place to compensate for their reduced stamina. The most important of these is a ban from all contact sports (football, wrestling, hockey, etc.) for 4 weeks from the onset of illness (acute phase) due to the risk of splenic rupture. Being excused from gym and other physical activities altogether for the first 4 to 6 weeks after return to school might also be reasonable just for lack of energy. Reduced homework load and/or a shortened school day for some time after return should also be considered in severe cases.

Health Services

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Infectious mononucleosis (mono) is often called the kissing disease. The virus that causes mono is transmitted through saliva, so you can get it through kissing, but you can also be exposed through a cough or sneeze, or by sharing a glass or food utensils with someone who has mono. However, mononucleosis isn’t as contagious as some infections, such as the common cold.

You’re most likely to get mononucleosis with all the signs and symptoms if you’re an adolescent or young adult. Young children usually have few symptoms, and the infection often goes unrecognized.

If you have mononucleosis, it’s important to be careful of certain complications such as an enlarged spleen. Rest and adequate fluids are key to recovery.

Signs and symptoms of mononucleosis may include:

  • Fatigue
  • General feeling of unwellness (malaise)
  • Sore throat, perhaps a strep throat that doesn’t get better with antibiotic use
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck and armpits
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Headache
  • Skin rash
  • Soft, swollen spleen

The virus has an incubation period of approximately four to six weeks, although in young children this period may be shorter. Signs and symptoms such as fever and sore throat usually lessen within a couple of weeks, although fatigue, enlarged lymph nodes and a swollen spleen may last for a few weeks longer.

When to see your doctor

If you’ve been experiencing the above symptoms, you may have mononucleosis.

If rest and a healthy diet don’t ease your symptoms within a week or two or if your symptoms recur, see your doctor.

The cause of mononucleosis is the Epstein-Barr virus.

Mononucleosis usually isn’t very serious. Most adults have been exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus and have built up antibodies. They’re immune and won’t get mononucleosis again.

Complications of mononucleosis may be more serious than the disease itself.

Enlargement of the spleen

Mononucleosis may cause enlargement of the spleen. In extreme cases, your spleen may rupture, causing sharp, sudden pain in the left side of your upper abdomen. If such pain occurs, seek medical attention immediately — you may need surgery.

Liver issues

Problems with your liver also may occur:

  • Hepatitis. You may experience mild liver inflammation (hepatitis).
  • Jaundice. A yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice) also occurs occasionally.

Less common complications

Mononucleosis can also result in the following less common complications:

  • Anemia — a decrease in red blood cells and in hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein in red blood cells
  • Thrombocytopenia — low count of platelets, which are blood cells involved in clotting
  • Heart problems — an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis)
  • Complications involving the nervous system — meningitis, encephalitis and Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Swollen tonsils — which can block breathing

The Epstein-Barr virus can cause much more serious illness in people who have impaired immune systems, such as people with HIV/AIDS or people taking drugs to suppress immunity after an organ transplant.

If you suspect you have mononucleosis, see your family doctor. Here’s some information to help you get ready for your appointment and know what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Write down any symptoms you’re experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Write down key personal information, noting any major stresses,— recent life changes, your daily routine rincluding sleep habits — or exposure to anyone with mononucleosis.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements you’re taking.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For mononucleosis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What are the likeliest causes of my symptoms or condition?
  • Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
  • What tests do I need?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them?
  • Are there restrictions I need to follow?
  • Do I need to stay home from work or school? How long should I stay home?
  • When can I return to strenuous activities and contact sports?
  • Are there any medications I need to avoid with mononucleosis?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?

Don’t hesitate to ask any other relevant questions.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • When did you develop symptoms?
  • Have you been exposed to anyone with mononucleosis?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?

Your doctor may suspect mononucleosis based on your signs and symptoms, how long they’ve lasted and a physical examination. He or she will look for signs like swollen lymph nodes, tonsils, liver or spleen, and consider how these signs relate to the symptoms you describe.

Blood tests

  • Antibody tests. If there’s a need for additional confirmation, a monospot test may be done to check your blood for antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus. This screening test gives results within a day. But it may not detect the infection during the first week of the illness. A different antibody test requires a longer result time, but can detect the disease even within the first week of symptoms.
  • White blood cell count. Your doctor may use other blood tests to look for an elevated number of white blood cells (lymphocytes) or abnormal-looking lymphocytes. These blood tests won’t confirm mononucleosis, but they may suggest it as a possibility.

There’s no specific therapy available to treat infectious mononucleosis. Antibiotics don’t work against viral infections such as mono. Treatment mainly involves bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids.


  • Treating secondary infections. Occasionally, a streptococcal (strep) infection accompanies the sore throat of mononucleosis. You may also develop a sinus infection or an infection of your tonsils (tonsillitis). If so, you may need treatment with antibiotics for these accompanying bacterial infections.
  • Risk of rash with some medications. Amoxicillin and other penicillin derivatives aren’t recommended for people with mononucleosis. In fact, some people with mononucleosis who take one of these drugs may develop a rash. The rash, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re allergic to the antibiotic. If needed, other antibiotics that are less likely to cause a rash are available to treat infections that may accompany mononucleosis.
  • Corticosteroids. To ease some of your symptoms, such as severe swelling of your throat and tonsils, your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid medication such as prednisone.

Besides getting plenty of bed rest, these steps can help relieve symptoms of mononucleosis:

  • Drink plenty of water and fruit juices. Fluids help relieve fever and sore throat and prevent dehydration.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Use pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) as needed. These medicines have no antiviral properties. Take them only to relieve pain or a fever.

    Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.

  • Gargle with salt water. Do this several times a day to relieve sore throat. Mix 1/2 teaspoon salt in 8 ounces (237 milliliters) of warm water.

Wait to return to sports and some other activities

Most signs and symptoms of mononucleosis ease within a few weeks, but it may be two to three months before you feel completely normal. The more rest you get, the sooner you should recover. Returning to your usual schedule too soon can increase the risk of a relapse.

To avoid risk of rupturing your spleen, wait at least one month before returning to vigorous activities, heavy lifting, roughhousing or contact sports. Rupture of the spleen results in severe bleeding and is a medical emergency.

Ask your doctor when it’s safe for you to resume your normal level of activity. Your doctor may recommend a gradual exercise program to help you rebuild your strength as you recover.

Mononucleosis can last weeks, keeping you at home as you recover. Be patient with your body as it fights the infection.

For young people, having mononucleosis will mean some missed activities — classes, team practices and parties. Without doubt, you’ll need to take it easy for a while. Students need to let their schools know they are recovering from mononucleosis and may need special considerations to keep up with their work.

If you have mononucleosis, you don’t necessarily need to be quarantined. Many people are already immune to the Epstein-Barr virus because of exposure as children. But plan on staying home from school and other activities until you’re feeling better.

Seek the help of friends and family as you recover from mononucleosis. College students should also contact the campus student health center staff for assistance or treatment, if necessary.

Mononucleosis is spread through saliva. If you’re infected, you can help prevent spreading the virus to others by not kissing them and by not sharing food, dishes, glasses and utensils until several days after your fever has subsided and even longer, if possible.

The Epstein-Barr virus may persist in your saliva for months after the infection. No vaccine exists to prevent mononucleosis.

Dec. 19, 2012

Original article:

Getting mononucleosis is no fun. Take it from someone who has been there, lying in a hospital bed, sleeping only with the help of prescribed painkillers, and getting all her fluids from an IV drip. Here is what you need to know.

You’ve probably heard of it before by the rather unscientific name of “the kissing disease.” Mononucleosis, or mono for short, is a contagious disease that tends to run rampant on college campuses. It is spread through the sharing of bodily fluids (hence, kissing disease). The truth is, though, that kissing someone who is sick is a) never a good idea, b) likely to transmit other diseases besides mono, such as the common cold, and c) not the only way that mono is transmitted.

Antonio Guillem / .com

It’s really easy to get mono. How many of you have shared a drink with another person or stolen a bite of your friend’s dinner and eaten from his fork? I am definitely guilty of both of those things. Ever borrowed someone else’s toothbrush? Shared a hot dog at a baseball game? You guessed it. Mono. Not only is mono transmitted through saliva, but also through blood (transfusions and organ transplants have been linked to the disease). So, steer clear of sick people, don’t share cups, and please never share a toothbrush.

Mono is actually most often caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. This is one of those viruses that the majority of people have but don’t often know about. Over a quarter of college-aged students who get infected with the Epstein-Barr virus will develop mono. What makes the Epstein-Barr virus really fun is the fact that once you have it, it tends to stay in your system even if you’re not displaying any symptoms. Luckily, once you’ve gotten over the initial bout of mono, the virus doesn’t tend to affect you any more (like chicken pox), but if it becomes active again, you will once again be contagious.

Tashatuvango / .com

How do I know if I have mono?

If you’ve been in contact with someone who has developed mono, be on the lookout for the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Swollen tonsils
  • General exhaustion
  • Rash
  • Swollen spleen

The incubation period between exposure and the appearance of symptoms is generally four to six weeks, meaning that by the time you have mono, you probably have no idea why you have it. Furthermore, most of these symptoms are not individual to mono. A combination of fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes and tonsils could just as easily describe the flu or strep throat. When you’re sick, you tend to be tired anyway, so even being tired may not be the best clue.

Your best bet to determine the cause of your illness is a visit to your doctor. Strep throat has a simple test that can be run during an office visit. There are tests for mono (antibody tests and white blood cell counts), but doctors can typically diagnose it without having to sample your blood.

What do I do once I’ve been diagnosed with mono?

There is no treatment for mono. And, here’s the kicker: it can last from two weeks to six months. The best things that you can do to get healthy are to drink plenty of clear, nonalcoholic fluids (water, tea, broth), sleep as often as your body tells you to, and take Tylenol or Advil to control pain and to lower your fever.

Additionally, you need to avoid playing contact sports until you’re given the all clear by your doctor. Having a swollen spleen is a side effect of mono, and if you play contact sports before it’s back to normal, your spleen could rupture. If you’ve ruptured your spleen, you’ll feel a sharp pain in the upper left quadrant of your stomach. This is incredibly serious, and you’ll need to go to the hospital for emergency surgery. Trust me on this: emergency surgery isn’t any fun and it’s better to just wait until you’re healthy.

What if the pain is so bad that I can’t swallow any fluids or sleep even though I’m tired?

Unfortunately, this can happen. It happened to me. You have a couple of choices. You can go straight to the emergency room, cry to a doctor about how miserable you are, and get prescribed oxycodone for the pain and intravenous steroids to reduce swelling (which is what I did). You could also try the health clinic at your school or pay a visit to your primary care physician (both of whom may direct you to the ER, but it’s worth a shot).

What about classes?

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If you are unlucky enough to get a severe case of mono during the school year, the first person that you’re going to want to email is the dean of student affairs. Some schools have a dean in charge of each class year, and some have deans based on department, but regardless, this person is going to be able to help you figure out a course of action. The dean may email professors on your behalf, or you can email them and ask for extensions on any assignments that you might have.

I came down with mono at finals time my freshman year. The dean called me when I was in the hospital, asked what she could do, and emailed my professors on my behalf. Since my finals happened to be papers and no big tests, all of my professors granted extensions and said that I could submit my papers during the first month of summer break if I needed to. I ended up getting them all done before I left campus, after I was released from the hospital. It was nice to be given the option, though.

Colleges have been dealing with outbreaks of mono for years. I was certainly not the only freshman who got it in the spring of 2009. Mono is almost like a rite of passage, so if you do get it, be aware that your school will work with you. It’s an illness, not a vacation period.

Is there anything else to watch out for?

The Epstein-Barr virus can cause other illnesses besides mono, but it is often limited to people who are already immunocompromised. As always, you know your body best. If you think that there is something new or strange going on, see your primary care physician for a full exam.

Getting Through Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis (mono) is an infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Signs of mono include fever, sore throat, headaches, white patches on the back of your throat, swollen glands in your neck, feeling tired and not feeling hungry.

How is mononucleosis passes?

The virus is found in saliva and mucus. It can be passed from one person to another through coughing, sneezing and kissing. Signs of mono usually develop four to seven weeks after you’re exposed to the virus. Generally, people only get mono once. It is most common in people 15 to 35 years old.

Does mononucleosis have any complications?

Sometimes. The main serious concern with mono is that the spleen will enlarge and even rupture. Although a ruptured spleen is rare in people with mono, it’s wise to be aware of the signs and call the Health Center right away if you notice any of them:

  • pain in the upper left part of your abdomen
  • feeling lightheaded
  • feeling like your heart is beating hard and fast
  • bleeding more easily than usual
  • having trouble breathing

Can mononucleosis be cured?

No, but mono will go away on its own. Symptoms usually last about four weeks.

How is mononucleosis treated?

The main point of treatment is to relieve your symptoms. The following list includes tips on treatment:

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids (alcohol NOT included)
  • If you have a sore throat, gargle with salt water or suck on lozenges, hard candy or frozen desserts (popsicles are good)
  • You may want to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve pain and fever. Aspirin should be avoided because it is associated with Reye’s syndrome in children and young adults. Reye’s is a serious illness that can lead to death.

Do I need an antibiotic?

Antibiotics like penicillin are of no help in mono, because mono is a virus and antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Your clinician may give you an antibiotic if you have a bacterial infection in addition to having mono.

What about sports and exercise?

Avoid sports activities or exercise of any kind until the clinician tells you it’s safe.

Anything else?

NO ALCOHOL!!! Because enlargement of the spleen and liver may occur with this disease, alcohol should be avoided.

This information was made available by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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