Infectious Mononucleosis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Infectious mononucleosis is another non-lethal medical condition that is known by many names, like mono, glandular fever as it causes swelling in organs, Pfeiffer’s disease, and Fliatov’s disease. The most mischievous name given to it is the “kissing diseases” because it travels through saliva. That’s the reason it mostly infects people aged between 15-30 years. Mono is rarely life-threatening or poses risk of permanent organ damage. However, some of its characteristic are unpleasant and can compel patients to remain bed-ridden for a week or two. Before moving on to treatments, let’s go through a brief overview of its causes, symptoms, and other essential information.

Infectious Mononucleosis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is infectious mononucleosis?

It’s an infectious viral disease that is very commonly found globally. Like other viral diseases, it’s caused by a specific virus called the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a member of the herpes virus family. It’s contagious and can spread easily from one individual to many. As the symptoms take a while to surface, it’s hard to get away with it.

How it could infect you?

People aged between 15-30 years are most vulnerable after children. Most of the children have chances to acquire it during childhood but without attracting too much attention as the symptoms are only flu-like. Moreover, 90 percent of adults acquire immunity against it by the age of 40. The symptoms rarely return.

People in developing countries are at greater risk of getting infected by mono than developed ones.


In adolescents, who are most vulnerable to mono, the disease causes fever, fatigue, sore throat, dizziness, headache, muscle weakness, swollen tonsils, night-sweating along with some other symptoms. It can cause swollen lymph glands in the neck and armpits.

It can also cause temporary swelling in spleen or liver, but is rarely lethal.


When the above mentioned symptoms appear and the infected person isn’t able to heal for weeks despite medication and resting, it’ll be any doctor’s guess. Age group is another criterion that is used to measure vulnerability of the infected person. Adults are most vulnerable.

White Blood Cell Count

Other than observing the common symptoms, white blood cell counts also indicate presence or absence of the virus. In mono infection the count increases as body produces more white blood cells to defend itself against external infection. But it doesn’t confirm EBV as it can happen in case of fever as well.

Mono Spot Test

The doctor can confirm infectious mono through spot test. Like other infections, the body produces antibodies to EBV to defend itself. Through mono spot test, presence of particular antibodies can be detected, thus, confirming presence of EBV.


Mono mostly doesn’t require medical treatment as it’s a self-limiting disease. It disappears slowly in a month or so. A person goes through an acute phase characterized by high-fever and swelling of lymph during the first week. Depending upon the immunity and age of the person, infected person can get to work after one week. It implies that only symptomatic or supportive treatments are used. To avoid splenic rupture, doctors advise avoiding contact sports, heavy physical activity, especially those activities which causes increased abdominal pressure.


Doctors prescribe paracetamol or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen to reduce fever and pain. To reduce the symptoms of pharyngeal pain, odynophagia, or enlarged tonsils, doctors suggest prednisone, a corticosteroid as an anti-inflammatory.

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