Mononucleosis – What You Need to Know

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Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 27, 2019.


What is mononucleosis (mono)?

Mono is an infection caused by a virus. Mono is spread through saliva.

What are the signs and symptoms of mono?

  • Extreme tiredness or weakness
  • Sore throat or swollen tonsils
  • Fever
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes on the sides and back of your neck
  • Headache and muscle aches
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite

How is mono diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. You may need any of the following:

  • A blood test may show signs of infection or the virus that causes mono.
  • A throat swab may be needed to check for infection. A healthcare prov >
  • An ultrasound or CT scan may show inflammation or damage to your spleen or appendix. You may be given contrast liquid before the CT scan. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.

How is mono treated?

Your symptoms may last for 4 weeks or longer. You may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor’s order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor’s order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Steroids help decrease inflammation.
  • Antibiotics may be needed if you also have a bacterial infection.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Rest as needed. Slowly start to do more each day as you feel better.
  • Drink liquids as directed. Liquids will help prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Do not play sports or exercise for 3 to 4 weeks or as directed. When you return for your follow-up visit, your healthcare provider will tell you if you are able to return to full activity.

How can I prevent the spread of mono?

Do not share food or drinks. Do not kiss anyone. The virus may be in your saliva for several months after you feel better. Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child’s diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have shortness of breath.
  • You are confused or have a seizure.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have severe pain in your abdomen or shoulder.
  • You have trouble swallowing because of the pain.
  • You urinate very little or not at all.
  • Your arms or legs are weak.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your symptoms get worse, even after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

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Further information

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