Things to know about mono: The “kissing disease”

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Mononucleosis, also known as mono or the “kissing disease”, is a virus that can be spread through saliva and close contact. While it is often associated with teenagers, anyone can contract mono. That’s why it’s important to understand the basics of this virus in order to protect yourself and those around you from infection. 

What is infectious mononucleosis?

Mono, or mononucleosis, is a viral infection that is usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It spreads through saliva primarily through activities like kissing, sharing drinks, and sharing utensils. It can also be spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs near another person. Most people will only get mono once in their lifetime, although it can recur in some cases. 

How is mono spread? 

The most common way for it to spread is via saliva—hence its nickname “the kissing disease”—but it can also be transferred through other means such as sharing utensils or drinks, coughing, or sneezing. It is important to note that once someone has had mono they are not immune. They may still be able to transmit the virus even if they no longer have any symptoms. 

What are the symptoms of mono?

The most common symptom of mono is extreme fatigue, although many people also experience the following:

  • Fever (temperature greater than 100.4ºF)
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpits

In some cases, people may also experience headaches, chills and body aches. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on how well the person takes care of themselves during recovery time. 

Who is at risk of getting mono? 

Anyone can get mono – children and adults alike – but the risk increases with age as we come into contact with more people who could be carrying the virus. Young adults between the ages of 15 to 24 are most at risk since they are more likely to have close contact with others who could be carrying the virus. 

That being said, anyone who comes into contact with someone who has mono should take extra precautions to avoid getting infected themselves. This includes washing hands regularly and avoiding shared drinking cups or utensils if possible.  

Is mono ever dangerous?

The spleen is an organ in the left upper abdomen, just under the diaphragm. Inflammation develops in the spleen in about half of people with mono. If you have inflammation, you should avoid contact sports or heavy lifting for a few weeks. This advice is given to avoid the rare complication of splenic rupture that can occur after trauma, but can also happen spontaneously.

How do doctors diagnose mono?

When it comes to diagnosing mono, doctors often take a careful approach. Most likely, they will assess the symptoms you are experiencing and may also do a physical exam. While there is no single test that tells you definitively whether or not you have mono, your doctor might draw your blood for one or more tests to check for antibodies related to mono viruses. 

Depending on the circumstances and what other illnesses need to be ruled out, they may perform additional tests as well. 

What treatment is available for mono? 

The goal of mono treatment is to ease the symptoms while the immune system contains the virus. Antibiotics are not helpful because mono is a viral disorder, and there are no antiviral medications that can effectively treat or cure the Epstein-Barr virus. 

Seek medical attention

If you experience any symptoms of mono for more than a few days, visit a Nao Medical location near you and seek medical attention. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding treatment options and avoiding strenuous activity while your body adjusts to the virus. By understanding what causes mono and how it spreads we can all work together to prevent its spread!

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