Mono: The Kissing Disease

December 7, 2017
Young woman sick with mono

Often referred to as “the kissing disease,” mononucleosis (or “mono” for short) is a common viral infection that’s transmitted through saliva. If you’re concerned about your or your child’s risk of developing mononucleosis, here are a few important facts you should know.

What Is Mono?

Infectious mononucleosis is a term that refers to a collection of symptoms caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Because this virus is easily transmitted through saliva, mono is sometimes contracted through kissing. That said, you can also be exposed to EBV through a sneeze or cough, or by sharing food, utensils, or drinking glasses with an infected person.

Who Is at Risk for Mono?

While children and older adults can develop mononucleosis, it’s most common among adolescents and younger adults in their 20s. Many people with mono don’t realize they’re infected since symptoms are often mild or nonexistent. And once someone contracts an EBV infection, they aren’t likely to get another one thanks to immune cells that develop in the body.

What Are the Symptoms of Mono?

While many people don’t experience obvious signs of an EBV infection, mononucleosis can cause one or more of the following symptoms:

  • A sore throat
  • Intense fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Swollen lymph glands in the armpits and neck
  • Swollen tonsils
  • A pink or purple rash on skin or inside the mouth
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle weakness

Obvious signs of mono may not appear until four to six weeks after exposure to the virus. Most cases linger for one or two months, but it’s possible for symptoms to last longer and disrupt quality of life. A person with a severe infection may experience mono “flare-ups” several months or even years after the initial infection, which may involve periods of fatigue, sore throat, or fever.

Although uncommon, a person with mono may develop swelling of the liver or spleen. If you notice severe pain in the upper left part of your abdomen, promptly visit your doctor for an evaluation. It’s also important to consult with a medical professional if your symptoms don’t improve after two weeks of self-care measures like rest and over-the-counter medicines.

Can Mono Be Prevented?

There’s no vaccine or treatment to prevent mononucleosis. If you’ve been diagnosed with an EBV infection, you can help stop its spread by keeping things like utensils, lip balm, and drinkware to yourself and by covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing. Most experts believe the virus can be spread through saliva for up to three months after contraction, although some studies suggest it may remain contagious for up to 18 months.

How Is Mono Diagnosed?

Since the symptoms of mononucleosis can mimic those of more serious diseases (such as hepatitis and certain cancers), a doctor will likely perform tests to rule out other illnesses. These might include an EBV antibody test or a monospot test to screen for key indicators of EBV. A blood test to measure white blood cell and lymphocyte counts may also be performed.

What Are the Treatment Options for Mono?

If your doctor determines that you do have mononucleosis, he or she may prescribe a corticosteroid medication to ease symptoms. Over-the-counter pain medications can also be used to reduce sore throat pain. For many people, the most important part of mono treatment is to receive plenty of rest and stay hydrated while the immune system works to fight off the infection.

Mono Testing & Treatment at PhysicianOne Urgent Care

PhysicianOne Urgent Care’s locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York are excellent places to turn for same-day mononucleosis testing and treatment. Our top-rated practice is accredited by the Urgent Care Association and affiliated with leading healthcare systems, so you can be assured that your health is in the most capable of hands as our patient.

Consider visiting the PhysicianOne Urgent Care location nearest you if you suspect you may have mono or you’re ready to find relief from symptoms. We’re open 365 days per year during extended hours and offer walk-in availability as well as appointment scheduling. Don’t feel up to visiting us in person? No worries—you’re welcome to consult with an expert from the comfort of home using our 24/7 telemedicine service. Our team proudly accepts most health insurance plans and offers sensible self-pay rates.

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Throughout the visit I felt like the staff really cared. The doctor took his time talking with me about my symptoms, and I felt like he listened to all my concerns and took that into consideration when recommending the right treatment. Thank you!
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