Infectious mononucleosis

What is infectious mononucleosis?

Infectious mononucleosis or glandular fever is a common viral infection that presents with high fever, sore throat and enlarged lymph nodes.

The most common cause of infection is the Ebstein-Barr virus /EBV/ and it most often occurs in teenagers and young adults.

The infection usually clears up without medical attention, although it can last from a week to a month. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and can be done at home.

The infected person must rest, take fluids and medicines to lower the temperature. Serious complications rarely occur.

What are the symptoms?

Fever and sore throat are the common initial symptoms of infectious mononucleosis. The temperature usually stays above 101°F (38°C) and can last for several weeks.

The throat becomes sore and red due to the inflammation of the mucous membranes of the throat, which can cause pain when swallowing and talking.

Swollen lymph nodes are another common symptom of mononucleosis. Lymph nodes, which are located in the neck, armpits and inguinal region, become enlarged and painful. This is due to the body’s immune response against the virus.

Fatigue is a common symptom that affects patients with infectious mononucleosis. Due to the intense fight of the immune system against the virus, those affected feel exhausted and without energy. This can lead to physical weakness and drowsiness.

In addition to the main symptoms, infectious mononucleosis can cause the following unpleasant conditions:

  • Headache: Migraine-like or tension headaches are common and may be aggravated by inflamed lymph nodes.
  • Rash: Skin rash , which appears as small red spots, can appear as a symptom of infectious mononucleosis.
  • General malaise: Affected people often feel uncomfortable, apathetic and moody.
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  • Lack of appetite: Loss of appetite can be a symptom of mononucleosis and lead to weight loss.
  • Jaundice: In rare cases, mononucleosis can cause jaundice, which is characterized by yellowing of the skin and eyes. This is the result of increased levels of bilirubin in the blood.
  • Inflammation of the mucous membranes – tonsillitis: Inflammation of the soft palate and tonsils can cause pain when swallowing and talking.
  • Body aches: Muscle and joint aches are common and can be improved with rest and analgesics.
  • Enlarged spleen and/or liver
  • strong>: Rarely, infectious mononucleosis can cause enlargement of the liver and spleen. This can be manifested by thirst and increased urine output.

  • Abdominal pain: Some patients complain of abdominal pain, which may be related to an enlarged spleen.
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  • Difficulty breathing: In rare cases, mononucleosis can cause blocked airways, which can lead to difficulty breathing.

Symptoms of infectious mononucleosis usually resolve with time, and most patients make a full recovery.

What are the causes of infectious mononucleosis?

The cause in the majority of cases is the Ebstein-Barr virus. This highly contagious infectious organism is a member of the Herpesviridae family of viruses.

Other viruses in this family are herpes simplex, varicella zoster, cytomegalovirus, and human herpesvirus types 6 and 7. Cytomegalovirus can cause an infection whose symptoms closely resemble those of mononucleosis. >

Glandular fever most often occurs in people between the ages of 5 and 25. The highest frequency of occurrence is between the ages of 15 and 25.

A small percentage of people in this age group become infected each year. Infection is more common among people of higher than average socioeconomic status.

Most adults have already been infected with the EBV virus. Not everyone who is exposed to the virus, however, develops the symptoms of mononucleosis.

Once infected, a person becomes immune to future infections caused by the same virus. The EBV virus is transmitted through exposure to body fluids containing the virus.

The infection is most often carried out through saliva, hence the name “kissing disease”. The virus can also be spread through blood or genital secretions.

Treatment of mononucleosis

  • To relieve pain and lower the temperature, use paracetamol or ibuprofen;
  • For sore throat, you can use lozenges or gargle with warm salt water several times a day;
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration;
  • Rest lying down and limit your usual activities if possible until you feel better.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity and weight-bearing exercises until your doctor allows you to resume them. The spleen can be enlarged and physical exertion can lead to the formation of a rupture. Most doctors believe that a person with established mononucleosis should refrain from intense physical activity for at least a month after the initial symptoms appear or until the spleen returns to its normal size.

Medical treatment of glandular fever is appointed in rare cases when complications occur.

Corticosteroids are prescribed in rare cases of airway obstruction, hemolytic anemia – an autoimmune process in which red cells are destroyed by the immune system. Antibiotics are not used for treatment.

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