You constantly feel worn down, your throat is scratchy and raw, the glands in your neck and armpits are swollen, and your temperature is higher than normal. You may have mononucleosis.

Mononucleosis, or, mono, is a viral infection most often caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). In addition to the symptoms listed above, mono can manifest as headaches, abdominal pain, body aches, loss of appetite, night sweats, skin rash, and a swollen spleen. For most people, symptoms will begin to develop four to six weeks after exposure and typically last for two to six weeks. Fatigue and swollen lymph nodes and spleen could linger, though.

Mono was dubbed the Kissing Disease because the Epstein-Barr virus is spread through contact with infected bodily fluids, most often salvia. Young people are most commonly diagnosed with the disease, with the highest occurrence rate in 15-25 year-olds. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 95% of people aged 30-40 years were infected with EBV at some point in their lives.

There is no vaccination or cure for the Epstein-Barr virus. Symptoms can be treated with rest, drinking lots of fluids, and over-the-counter medications to reduce fever and sooth sore throats. If symptoms persist for more than two weeks, it’s a good idea to make an appointment to see your ENT specialist. He or she will likely do a physical examination as well as draw blood to test the presence of antibodies and test white blood count levels.


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