Mononucleosis

Alternative Names

Mono; Kissing disease

Definition of Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis is a viral infection causing fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands, especially in the neck.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Mononucleosis, or mono, is often spread by saliva and close contact. It is known as “the kissing disease,” and occurs most often in those age 15 to 17. However, the infection may develop at any age.

Symptoms

Mono may begin slowly with fatigue, a general ill feeling, headache, and sore throat. The sore throat slowly gets worse. Your tonsils become swollen and develop a whitish-yellow covering. The lymph nodes in the neck are frequently swollen and painful.

Signs and tests

During a physical examination, the doctor may find swollen lymph nodes in the front and back of your neck, as well as swollen tonsils with a whitish-yellow covering.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms. Medicines such as steroids (prednisone) and antivirals (such as acyclovir) have little or no benefit.

Expectations (prognosis)

The fever usually drops in 10 days, and swollen lymph glands and spleen heal in 4 weeks. Fatigue usually goes away within a few weeks, but may linger for 2 to 3 months.

Review

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 5/9/2010

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ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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