Mononucleosis symptoms, causes and treatments

November 12, 2012

Mononucleosis symptoms, causes and treatments

Mononucleosis is a viral infection sometime referred to as mono. There are a number of mononucleosis symptoms and it is easily spread via saliva.


Mono as it is often called for short, is a contagious viral infection that is spread through both saliva and close contact. It occurs most commonly in teenagers, aged 15 – 17 and has been dubbed “the kissing disease”. It can though develop or be caught by an individual of any age. Mono is associated and often linked to the Epstein-Barr virus but different organisms can cause it.

Mononucleosis symptoms

The initial mononucleosis symptoms include fatigue, a headache, sore throat and a general feeling of being under the weather. As the virus develops, the sore throat will begin to feel worse until the tonsils become swollen, painful and white/ yellow color. Another of the common mononucleosis symptoms is for the lymph nodes in the neck to become swollen and painful. Some people also develop a rash that is similar in appearance to a measles rash and this seems to occur more often when the individual is taking ampicillin or amoxicillin as treatment for the sore throat. The most common mononucleosis symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Muscle ache and stiffness

  • Loss of appetite leading to weight loss

  • Drowsiness

  • Swollen spleen

  • General discomfort and uneasiness

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Rash

  • Sore throat

Further mononucleosis symptoms that are less common but could still potentially occur include:

  • Severe cough

  • Chest pain

  • Fatigue

  • Headache

  • Shortness of breath

  • Hives

  • Jaundice

  • Sensitivity to light

  • A rapid heart rate

  • Nosebleeds


If you experience any mononucleosis symptoms make an appointment to see the doctor. A physical examination will be performed and the doctor may feel swollen lymph nodes, yellow or white colored tonsils and possibly a swollen spleen. There may well also be a noticeable skin rash. If the doctor decides it is necessary blood tests may be done to check for a higher than normal white blood cell count. Another of the mononucleosis symptoms is the presence of unusual-looking white blood cells. These are known as lymphocytes and can be seen under a microscope. These along with abnormal liver function tests are a sure indication of mono.


Treatment of mononucleosis symptoms are mainly non medicinal. Both steroids and antivirals are rarely beneficial in treating mono. The best thing to do is drink plenty of fluids, gargle warm salt water, take plenty of rest and take ibuprofen to relieve any pain. Most of the symptoms will have disappeared within approximately 10 days. A swollen spleen and swollen lymph glands however may take up to 4 weeks to heal. Fatigue has been known to linger for as long as 2-3 months.

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