How Do I Know If I Have Mono?
If you are wondering if you have mono, there are some symptoms of which you should be aware. One sign that you may have mono is extreme weakness and tiredness that lasts for awhile, often weeks or even months. The best indicator to find out if you have mono is a blood test.
Mono, which is short for mononucleosis, can be spread easily from one person to another. Although it is not usually a serious disease, there are some complications that can arise of which you should be aware. Mono can have some uncomfortable symptoms and can interfere with your daily life, but the good news is that it will eventually go away over time.
What are the causes of mono?
Mononucleosis is often referred to as the kissing disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. The virus that causes it 90% of the time is known as EBV, or the Epstein-Barr virus. EBV is passed from one person to another via saliva; hence, the kissing reference.
WebMD reports that mono can also be transmitted through mucus from the throat and nose, and even through tears. Besides kissing, you can catch it by sharing eating utensils and drinking glasses, sneezing, coughing, or using someone else’s toothbrush. Although it can be spread easily, it can also be easily avoided if you know that someone has the disease.
Who is more susceptible to getting mono?
Mono is not common for people of all ages. Although it is possible for mono to develop at any age, it is most common in teenagers aged 15 to 17. Young adults are also more susceptible, especially while in college when they are tired and their immune system is more compromised.
Children sometimes get the virus, but their symptoms tend to be milder so it is harder to detect. Once someone has been infected, the body continues to carry the virus. This also helps the body build immunity to mono, which is why the majority of older adults do not get infected by it.
What types of symptoms result from mono?
Mono usually begins with mild fatigue, headaches, a general feeling of illness, and a sore throat. The fatigue increases with time and the sore throat gets worse, leading to swollen and painful tonsils. According to the National Institute of Health, other symptoms include fever, drowsiness, muscle stiffness or aches, appetite loss, and a rash. Swollen lymph nodes are also common, especially in the armpit and neck regions.
Other less-common symptoms are coughing, chest pain, hives, jaundice, nosebleeds, neck stiffness, shortness of breath, a rapid heart rate, and a sensitivity to light. The NIH reports that a rash occurs more often when you take amoxicillin or ampicillin for an infection of the throat. This is one of the reasons why you should not take antibiotics for a strep throat unless you have a positive test for it.
Is mono treatable?
The best treatment for mono is self-care. Although most mono is caused by a virus, antiviral drugs have little effect. Getting rest is one of the best things you can do. Since the symptoms of mono can last for four to six weeks, this can interfere with work or school.
Gargling with salt water can help your sore throat and drinking copious amounts of fluid will help with other symptoms. Over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can be used if symptoms are really bad. You should also avoid heavy lifting and contact sports, as this can stress your spleen, which is already affected by the virus.
Are there complications from mono?
When you have mono, your spleen tends to swell. A complication of this is a ruptured spleen. This is rare, but you should avoid placing any pressure on the spleen.
Mono can lead to an infection in the throat and a skin rash. It can also lead to hepatitis, often accompanied with jaundice; hemolytic anemia; testicle inflammation; and problems with the nervous system, which are rare.
Are there other diseases that cause mono-like symptoms?
You may have symptoms that mirror mono, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the virus. There are certain other diseases that will have signs and symptoms similar to mono.
Cytomegalovirus, also known as CMV, is often associated with mono-like symptoms. Although many people who have CMV experience no symptoms, they may notice mild hepatitis and a prolonged fever. Pregnant women are especially susceptible to CMV, according to the Centers for Disease Control, so if they have these symptoms they should check for both mono and CMV.
Because excessive fatigue is common when you are sick, it shouldn’t be assumed that you have mono just because you’re tired. The other symptoms of mono are commonly found with additional illnesses as well. Other diseases that may, at times, have similar symptoms to mono include rheumatoid arthritis, leukemia, and other viral infections.
If you suspect that you have mono, have a monospot test, which will test for EBV. If this is negative, then you can begin to search for other causes.