Mono: The Kissing Disease


MonoCommonly referred to as “the kissing disease,” mono is the result of a viral infection that’s easily transmitted through saliva. If you are concerned about your child’s risk of developing mononucleosis, here’s what you should know.

What Is Mononucleosis?

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

Who Is at Risk?

Mono can be common in children; however, symptoms are usually either mild or nonexistent. Once people contract an EBV infection, they aren’t likely to get another one, due to immune cells that develop in the body. While adults can contract EBV, mono is more common among adolescents, high school and college students.

What Are the Symptoms?

While many people experience no symptoms in response to an EBV infection, others may develop the following:

• A sore throat
• Fever
• Headache
• Swollen lymph glands in the armpits and neck
• Swollen tonsils
• Night sweats
• Muscle weakness and fatigue

Symptoms can last from one to two months and may not develop until four to six weeks after exposure to the virus. Occasionally, a person may also experience swelling of the liver or spleen. If you notice severe pain in the upper left part of your abdomen, visit your doctor for an evaluation.

How Is Mono Treated?

Since other more serious viruses can mimic mono, doctors may perform tests to rule out other possibilities. These may include an EBV antibody test or a monospot test that looks for key antibodies. If your doctor determines that you do have mono, he or she may provide a corticosteroid medication to ease symptoms. Over-the-counter pain medications can also be used to reduce sore throat pain.

Dr. Jeannie Kenkare

Written by Dr. Jeannie Kenkare

Dr. Kenkare is a highly experienced clinician with a background in family medicine. As a founding member of PhysicianOne Urgent Care's parent company Happy Mountains, she is also our Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Kenkare provides guidance and leadership to our health care team, and is responsible for the review of clinical guidelines, decision tools, and outcomes to develop and implement strategies that will improve patient care and clinical quality.


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