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The Dreaded Mononucleosis: AKA “Mono”

Mononucleosis (often called “Mono”) is an infection caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus, a virus in the herpes family of viruses. 

Signs of mono include:

  • fever
  • sore throat
  • headaches
  • white patches on the back of the throat
  • swollen glands in the neck
  • feeling tired
  • loss of appetite

Mono is most common among people 15 – 35 years old. Once someone gets mono, the virus stays in the person’s body for life.  This doesn’t mean that they are always contagious. Over time, the virus becomes less contagious.  Mono is not spread as easily as the common cold.  It is found in saliva and mucus and usually passed through kissing, even though it could be passed in other ways, such as coughing, sharing toothbrushes, drinking straws, or eating utensils with someone who has the virus.  Signs of mono develop 4 – 6 weeks after being exposed to the virus.

Mono is confirmed through a simple blood test.  The main concern with mono is that the spleen will enlarge and rupture.  The spleen is a large gland located in the upper part of the abdomen on the left side; and in short, it helps filter blood to the body. Mono needs to run its course naturally, and usually last about 4 weeks.  Some people will feel tired for several weeks longer. However, Mono will go away on its own.

The main point of treatment is to relieve the symptoms:

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Gargle with salt water or suck on throat lozenges or hard candy for sore throats
  • Take either an acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve the symptoms
  • Avoid sports activities until the doctor tells you its safe

We are not exactly sure how long someone with mono stays contagious after symptoms are gone.  But it’s generally believed that a person can spread the infection for many months after the symptoms are completely gone.  Some studies show as long as 18 months. So, take the needed precautions to decrease the spread of germs, such as hand-washing, not sharing food or drinks, etc.

If you are having these symptoms, please call the office today at 757-488-3333 to schedule an appointment.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD


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