Article at a Glance
If you have kids in high school or college there is a good chance you have heard of mononucleosis or mono—a common viral disease that is most often seen in teens and young adults. Mono’s flu-like symptoms are notorious for leaving people tired and fatigued for weeks.
Most commonly caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), mono can cause flu-like symptoms that last 2 to 6 weeks. But even after symptoms have gone, some people may feel fatigued for months. The good news is that most people recover completely without any complications.
The most common symptoms are:
Mono is a viral disease that is spread by coming in contact with an infected person’s saliva through things like kissing, coughing, or sharing eating utensils. That is why it is often called the “kissing disease.”
Although most of us have been infected by mono, many of us will never realize it. In children the symptoms are usually mild and most adults already have immunity. It is in teens and young adults that you are more likely to see the more serious cases.
After recovering, you will always carry the virus with you. If the virus becomes active, you can spread it to others even though you won’t have any symptoms yourself.
It can be hard to distinguish mono from the flu because they share many of the same symptoms. But if your child’s symptoms last more than a couple of weeks and don’t get better after lots of rest, see your pediatrician. Your pediatrician will be able to diagnose mono through a physical exam and possibly a blood test.
The best way to treat mono is to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. The more rest you get, the better. Trying to do too much can cause a relapse. To help with the fever and sore throat, you can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You should never give somebody under the age of 20 aspirin because it can cause Reye syndrome, a serious and potentially fatal illness.
Avoid any sports or rough play until you get clearance from your doctor. Mono can cause an enlarged spleen, making it easier for it to rupture—a serious injury that requires emergency surgery.