Infectious mononucleosis, also known as mononucleosis, "mono," or glandular fever, is characterized by swollen lymph glands and chronic fatigue.
Infectious mononucleosis is either caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or the cytomegalovirus, both of which are members of the herpes simplex virus family. Consider the following statistics:
The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may cause infectious mononucleosis in adolescents and young adults. However, even after the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis have disappeared, the EBV will remain dormant in the throat and blood cells during that person's lifetime. The virus can reactivate periodically, however, usually without symptoms.
Mononucleosis usually lasts for one to two months. The following are the most common symptoms of mononucleosis. However, each adolescent may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Once a person has had mononucleosis, the virus remains dormant for the rest of that person's life. Once a person has been exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus, a person is usually not at risk for developing mononucleosis again.
Very rarely, carriers of this virus can develop Burkitt's lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma many years after infection. These two cancers are seen often in the United States.
The symptoms of mononucleosis may resemble other medical conditions. Always consult your adolescent's doctor for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination of your adolescent, a diagnosis of mononucleosis is usually based on reported symptoms. However, diagnosis can be confirmed with specific blood tests including:
Mononucleosis is often spread through contact with infected saliva from the mouth. According to the CDC, symptoms can take between four to six weeks to appear and usually do not last beyond four months. Transmission is impossible to prevent because even symptom-free people can carry the virus in their saliva.
Alleviating symptoms of mononucleosis may include the following:
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