Dr. M.J. Bazos, Patient Handout
About Your Diagnosis
Mononucleosis is an acute infectious disease that affects the respiratory system, the liver, and the lymphatic system. It is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. It is common in children and young adults. It is spread by close contact such as kissing, sharing food or utensils, and by coughing. Symptoms can appear from 10 to 30 days after exposure. It is easily detected with a blood test.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Signs and symptoms include sore throat (sometimes severe); fever, usually higher in the evening; loss of appetite; fatigue; swollen lymph glands in the neck, underarms, or groin; abdominal pain; headache; and general body aches. The liver and spleen enlarge and sometimes jaundice occurs. A ruptured spleen is a rare complication.

Bed rest and good nutrition are the best treatment. For muscle aches and minor discomfort, use nonaspirin drugs such as Tylenol or Advil. Aspirin should not be given to children younger than 16 years because its use increases the risk of a type of encephalitis called Reye’s syndrome. If the throat inflammation is severe, your doctor may prescribe a short course of steroids. Recovery takes from 10 days to months. Generally the fatigue last for 3–6 weeks after the other symptoms are gone.

The DOs
• Rest in bed until fever subsides.
• Maintain proper nutrition. Because of loss of appetite and sore throat, a diet of soups, juices, milkshakes, and bland foods may be better tolerated.
• Resume normal activity gradually after symptoms subside.
• Increase fluid intake to at least 8 glasses a day.
• Gargle with warm salt water to help ease sore throat.
• Because the occurrence of mononucleosis is greater in high school and college students, it may be necessary to arrange for schoolwork to be done at home.
The DON’Ts
• Don’t use aspirin if younger than 16 years. Research has shown a link with Reye’s syndrome when aspirin is used during a viral infection.
• Don’t lift heavy objects.
• Don’t strain hard for a bowel movement to prevent injury to an enlarged spleen.
• Don’t participate in contact sports until after complete recovery or after your doctor’s approval.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If your temperature is more than 102°F.
• If swallowing or breathing becomes difficult.
• If constipation is causing straining.
• If sudden severe abdominal pain occurs, especially in the left upper abdomen, and lasts longer than 5 minutes.
• If severe headache, neck pain, or stiffness occurs.

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