Mononucleosis: Sign, Symptom, Causes, Treatment


Mononucleosis is often known as ‘mono’ or the ‘kissing disease’. The name might sound funny, but since it is passed through the saliva, hence the name. Mono is an infectious ailment and is transmitted from one person to the other via saliva. There are many ways in which it can be transferred. Though kissing is always cited as the main cause, there are other reasons like exposure to sneeze or cough, sharing a glass or utensils with the infected person might also lead the ailment to be transmitted.

However, the degree of contagiousness is not as high as other infectious ailments like common cold and flu. It has been seen that mononucleosis symptoms are most prominent in teenagers and adolescents. Children might also be infected with the ailment, but the symptoms are not that pronounced and often go unnoticed completely. However, when there are certain complications like enlargement of the spleen, the problem might need serious medical attention. The best way to combat the problem is with the intake of adequate fluids and complete rest.

Symptoms of Mononucleosis

There are many signs and symptoms of mononucleosis and these are mainly evident in adolescents and teenagers. They are not prominent in children and in adults. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the armpits and neck
  • Skin rash
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Sore throat or even better a strep throat, which does not heal even with antibiotic dose
  • Soft and swollen spleen
  • Headache

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The virus which causes this ailment has an incubation period of about four to six weeks. However, it has been seen that in young children, this time span is way shorter than that. Symptoms of sore throat and fever generally reduce within a couple of weeks. But problems like enlarged lymph nodes, fatigue and swollen spleen will take quite many more weeks to subside.


What is the cause of mononucleosis?

Mononucleosis, also known as mono, is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. However, apart from this, there are also other viruses which might cause this infection. The Epstein-Barr virus belongs to the herpes virus family. Many people do not know, but this is one of the most common viruses which can be located globally. Generally, the ailment is not a very serious one. Adults who have exposed to this virus generally have built up antibodies. As a result, they are immune to the disease and do not have chances of getting mononucleosis again.

How is mononucleosis diagnosed?

For ruling out viruses like that of Hepatitis A, with similar symptoms to that of mono, there are some diagnostic tests which are carried out. This makes diagnosis of mono easier.

  • Initial check up and examination – The doctor first asks the time span for which the symptoms have been present. If you are between 15-25 years of age, you might be asked if you have been in direct contact with anyone suffering from mononucleosis. Age is a prime factor for this disease along with symptoms like a sore throat, fever and swollen glands. The glands are checked and upper left part of the stomach is checked for enlarged spleen.
  • Complete blood count with white blood cell count–Levels of blood cells are ascertained with the help of complete blood count. High lymphocyte count indicates some kind of infection, which can be mono. Also when you check the white blood cell count, it will be more. Because with the infection, the body produces more white blood cells for defending itself.
  • The monospot test – The monospot test is a great way of diagnosing mononucleosis. In this test antibodies are looked for. These are mainly heterophile antibodies and the body will develop these when one is infected with EBV virus. The test is best done between 2-4 weeks after the mono symptoms appear. Generally a positive response is obtained by this time.

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Treatment of mononucleosis

There is no particular treatment for mononucleosis. However, some kinds of medications might be prescribed for dealing with problems like tonsil and throat swelling. Generally the symptoms disappear after a few weeksor a month or two. The symptoms are eased with the medications. It is recommended to remain well hydrated by increasing fluid intake and get abundant rest. Eating healthy and nutritious food is also recommended so that immunity is built and one does not feel weak.