Mononucleosis: causes, symptoms and treatments

The mononucleosis It is an infectious disease caused by the herpes virus, although at other times it is associated with the cytomegalovirus. The method of transmission is through saliva, which is why it is popularly called the “kissing disease”.

It is usual to witness this infection during adolescence, between the ages of 15 and 17, but it can occur at any stage of life.


The kissing disease is originated by a relative of the herpes-viridae group, Epstein-Barr virus. This virus lives and is transmitted through salivary mucosa, so the most common way to get mononucleosis is through intimate physical contact.

Although kissing is the most common means, it is also possible to spread it through the use of the same food utensils, a sneeze or cough.

It is not a serious illness. The virus disappears from the body after 18 months from the first moment of transmission. In some people, the virus is shed intermittently, meaning that it can reappear at some stage in life, as well as disappear again.

Mononucleosis Symptoms

Once contagion occurs, the virus has an incubation process of up to 15 days, at which point there are no symptoms yet. The first symptom That begins to appear after this period is fatigue, which may even last longer than the rest of the symptoms.

It is common for patients to manifest:

  • Fever up to 40.5 ° C
  • Acute sore throat
  • Swollen glands
  • Pharyngitis
  • Asthenia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Soft spot
  • Elevated transaminase level
  • Sweating at night
  • Constipation
  • Acute headache

In rare cases, people may have symptoms such as swollen glands in the armpits and groin, as well as eyelid edema and rhinitis.

For children who get mononucleosis, symptoms are mild and once cured, they do not have the disease again.

Which is the diagnosis?

To diagnose mononucleosis, it is used hematological tests to identify the level of antibodies. Through changes in the blood, with the usual increase in lymphocytes in conjunction with a physical examination of the patient, the doctor can diagnose the infection caused by the virus.

However, other blood tests should rule out the possibility of infection by HIV, since they have a similar clinical picture. That is why an antibody study for the Epstein-Barr virus is used exclusively.

Treatments for mononucleosis

The first thing that is recommended to the patient is to take rest, so that the fever can decrease more quickly and the lymph nodes can be deflated. In case of a very high fever, medications are prescribed.

The body has its recovery period, but patients are advised not to lift weights or engage in activities that involve intimate physical contact with others during the acute phase of infection.

Acyclovir is an orally prescribed medication to combat the presence of the Epstein-Barr virus in the mucous membranes of the throat. Once the virus is eliminated from the body in a specific period, the infection disappears satisfactorily, although there are cases of health complications.

Some facts to keep in mind

  • Mononucleosis is a fairly common infection, although only 5% of patients catch it from another person who is in an acute phase of infection.
  • Some of the health complications that are serious and the patient should be careful are ruptured spleen, encephalitis, obstruction in the airways due to the exaggerated increase in lymph nodes and chronic anemia.

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