Mono

Overview

Mono, or mononucleosis, is a viral infection common in adolescents and young adults. Mono is commonly called the kissing disease because the virus can be spread through saliva, although coughing, sneezing, and sharing utensils can also spread the infection. Most cases of mono cause swollen lymph nodes, fever, and sore throat. Mono is usually not serious, although some complications can occur. The best way to treat mono is with rest and fluids at home.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Mono often begins with tiredness, headache, sore throat, and a general feeling of illness (malaise). Symptoms slowly get worse until a fever develops and tonsils and lymph nodes in the neck swell. Other symptoms of mono include fever, skin rash, and a swollen spleen, which may rupture in severe cases and cause sudden pain the upper left side of the abdomen. Mono may also lead to liver inflammation or jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of eyes). People with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to complications from mono.

Mono is most commonly diagnosed in young people between 15 and 17, but it can affect anyone. Doctors diagnose mono by checking for swollen lymph nodes, tonsils, or spleen. Blood tests can confirm a diagnosis by showing antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus. An elevated white blood cell count may also suggest mono.

Causes

Most cases of mono are caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is spread through saliva and close contact. Kissing, coughing, sneezing, and sharing personal items can all spread the virus. People who have already had mono will not get it again. Continue reading for Prevention and Treatment Information . . .

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