Glandular fever (mononucleosis)

Glandular fever (mononucleosis) is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and is highly contagious.

Overview

Glandular fever (mononucleosis) is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and is highly contagious. It is characterised by fever, severely swollen lymph nodes and tonsillitis. It usually heals on its own but fatigue can persist for many months.

Symptoms

The disease usually lasts for two to four weeks. It generally heals without complications and leaves the patient with lifelong immunity. Most infections with the Epstein-Barr virus go unnoticed (in particular in children).

Main symptoms

Other symptoms

  • Extreme fatigue (can last for months)
  • Enlarged spleen or liver
  • Abdominal pain and nausea
  • Skin rash in case of wrongly-prescribed antibiotics

Causes and treatment

Cause

  • Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • Transmission through direct body contact
    • Often through saliva while kissing; “kissing disease”

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Blood tests (identification of virus and typical changes to blood cells)
  • Throat swab (to exclude a bacterial infection, which can progress in a similar way)
Possible therapies
  • Antipyretic (i.e. fever-reducing) drugs
  • NO antibiotics, they don't work on viruses

What can I do myself?

  • Bed rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • No sport until symptoms disappear (tears can occur if the spleen / liver is enlarged)
  • Cool leg compresses for fever

When to see a doctor?

Synonyms

Epstein-Barr virus, EBT, infectious mononucleosis, glandular fever, kissing disease

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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