Many people get EBV during their lifetime. Factors that increase the likelihood that EBV will develop into mononucleosis include:
- Contracting EBV after age 10
- Lowered immune resistance due to other illness, stress, or fatigue
- Living in close quarters with a large number of people, such as in a college dormitory
One episode of mononucleosis usually produces permanent immunity.
Signs of mononucleosis usually begin 4-7 weeks after you were exposed to the virus. The initial symptoms may be a sense of general weakness that lasts about 1 week. This is followed by symptoms that may include:
- High fever
- Severe sore throat/swollen tonsils
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
- Abdominal swelling
- Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes— jaundice
There is no treatment to cure mononucleosis or to shorten the length of the illness. It usually lasts 4-6 weeks, although the fatigue may last longer.
During the first few weeks after diagnosis, you should avoid contact sports and lifting anything heavy. Inflammation of the spleen from mononucleosis puts you at high risk of splenic rupture. This can require surgery. In rare cases, it can be fatal.
It is important to get plenty of rest. Other supportive care may involve:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen
- Gargling with warm, salty water
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Steroids to reduce inflammation in the throat, if advised by your doctor
Most people contract the EBV virus sometime during their lives. Prevention is geared toward decreasing the likelihood that EBV will develop into mononucleosis. This can be done by:
- Avoiding intimate contact, especially kissing, with anyone who has active mononucleosis
- Eating a healthful diet
- Avoiding excess stress
- Getting enough rest
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Infectious Mononucleosis; Mono)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases http://www.niaid.nih.gov
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca
The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca
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