What is Mononucleosis?

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What is Mononucleosis?
Mononucleosis is an infectious disorder characterized by enlarged lymph nodes, high temperature, body weakness or fatigue, and sore throat. It is usually caused by the EBV or Epstein-Barr virus and is sometimes called as “glandular fever”. Many also call it as just “mono” or “kissing disease” since the primary method of transmission for this infection is through the saliva.

The symptoms presented by those who suffer from mononucleosis are due to the abnormal increase in lymphocytes in the blood. Persons most commonly affected by this infectious disorder are children, teenagers, and young adults. In terms of age group, the 5-25 years of age are most affected, with peak incidence at 15-17 years.

9 out 10 cases of mononucleosis are caused by the EBV or Epstein-Barr virus, which is part of the herpes family of viruses. But there are also cases that infected persons do not present any symptoms. For those who experience symptoms like fever and fatigue, they may last for weeks or even months. Some case will just resolve without treatment over time. After infection with EBV though, a person will develop immunity from this disease.

Saliva is the main mode of transmission of the highly contagious Epstein-Barr virus. But one doesn’t have to be involved in any kissing activities to get mononucleosis. More commonly, saliva from an infected person may be transferred to another through food and/or utensil sharing, coughing, and sneezing.

Common management of mononucleosis depends on the symptoms that are present. Those who experience body weakness and fatigue are advised to take enough water or other fluids, and to rest often. For those with sore throat, antibiotics may be given. People with fever are just given basic over the counter drugs like paracetamol. But for those with serious findings such as swelling of the spleen or liver, they must seek medical attention immediately.

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