Infectious mononucleosis, also known as mono or the kissing disease, is a contagious viral illness that most commonly affects adolescents and young adults. It is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is a member of the herpes virus family.
The symptoms of infectious mononucleosis can vary from person to person, but they typically include:
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck and armpits
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
In most cases, infectious mononucleosis is a mild illness that resolves on its own within a few weeks. However, some people may experience complications, such as:
- Splenic rupture
- Aplastic anemia
- Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
- Meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord)
- Guillain-Barre syndrome (a rare neurological disorder)
The diagnosis of infectious mononucleosis is usually based on the patient’s symptoms and a physical examination. A blood test can be used to confirm the diagnosis by detecting antibodies to the EBV virus.
There is no specific treatment for infectious mononucleosis. Treatment is usually supportive and includes measures to relieve symptoms, such as rest, plenty of fluids, and over-the-counter pain relievers. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat secondary infections, such as strep throat.
There is no vaccine to prevent infectious mononucleosis. However, the risk of infection can be reduced by avoiding close contact with people who are sick. This includes avoiding kissing, sharing food or drinks, and using the same utensils as someone who is sick.