Infectious mononucleosis ("mono" for short) is a viral
infection that affects lymph nodes ("glands").
do you catch it?
How one catches mono is not really known; however, many medical
authorities believe that secretions from the nose and throat spread
the virus. Thus close contact (e.g., sneezing or kissing) may spread
it. Some people may have mono without knowing it, so you can get
it without remembering contact with anyone who had it.
are the symptoms?
- sore throat
- swollen lymph nodes ("glands")
- jaundice (appearing yellow-skinned)
go away before the virus leaves the body, so you may be contagious
while improving. Associated bacterial infections can also occur,
including strep throat.
is the diagnosis made?
Findings on blood counts and a mono blood test will tell you if
you have mono. Sometimes the mono test is negative even if you have
mono. There are other mono-like illnesses with negative mono tests;
treatment in all these cases is the same.
you be hospitalized?
It is not common to hospitalize patients with mono unless the symptoms
are especially severe. You may, however, need help in your apartment
or dorm for a few days until you begin to feel better.
can you do?
Viruses do not respond to antibiotics. However, there are a number
of things that you can do to feel better.
GARGLE with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon of table salt and 1/2
cup tap water) as often as desired to soothe sore throat.
- USE LOZENGES according to package instructions or hard candy
to relieve throat discomfort.
- TAKE IBUPROFEN (600 mg 3 times a day) or ACETAMINOPHEN (650
mg) every 4-6 hours for fever and discomfort unless a physician
advises against these medications.
- APPLY WARM, MOIST TOWELS to neck, where swollen, as often as
- REST. This is no time to be jogging, playing sports, or exercising.
Do not tire yourself unnecessarily. Resting does not mean you
should stop all your normal daily routines -- but be sensible.
- AVOID PRESSURE TO THE ABDOMEN. This means no heavy lifting,
no contact sports, no vigorous sexual activity. Anytime you develop
a tender abdomen, seek medical attention. We make these recommendations
because the spleen and/or liver are usually enlarged, and, though
rare, rupture of the spleen can occur.
- DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL, especially if your liver is large or you
- PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE: Wash your hands, cover your nose and
mouth when sneezing, and properly dispose of all used facial tissues.
As with all contagious illnesses, consider others when making
decisions about sexual activity.
health care personnel:
if you suspect you have mono.
- if symptoms of mono persist more than 2 weeks.
- if you develop new symptoms, including vomiting.
- if sore throat or swollen glands are worse.
- if you develop abdominal pain or jaundice (yellow skin).
- if you have a fever of 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees C) for more
than 2 days.
- if any symptoms worry you.
- anytime you are unsure of what to do.
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