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Infectious mononucleosis is characterized by swollen lymph glands, fever, sore throat, and extreme fatigue. It’s often spread through contact with infected saliva from the mouth. Symptoms can take between 4 to 6 weeks to appear and usually do not last beyond 4 months. Transmission is impossible to prevent because even symptom-free people can carry the virus in their saliva.
Infectious mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). A variant of mononucleosis that is milder than EBV infectious mononucleosis is caused by the cytomegalovirus (CMV). Both EBV and CMV are members of the herpes virus family:
Mononucleosis usually lasts for 1 to 2 months. The following are the most common symptoms of mononucleosis. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Once a person has had mononucleosis, the virus remains dormant in the throat and blood cells for the rest of that person's life. Once a person has been exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus, a person is usually not at risk for developing mononucleosis again.
The symptoms of mononucleosis may resemble other medical conditions. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
A diagnosis of mononucleosis is usually based on reported symptoms. However, diagnosis can be confirmed with specific blood tests and other lab tests, including:
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
Treatment for mononucleosis may include:
Complications of infectious mononucleosis don’t happen often. Complications may include:
Avoid kissing or sharing dishes, food utensils, or personal items with anyone who has the infection.
If your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms, let your healthcare provider know.
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