Mono is a viral infectious disease that is also known as infectious mononucleosis. Epstein Barr Virus is a common causative agent, but other viruses (such as rubella, adenovirus, cytomegalovirus, hepatitis A, B or C and toxoplasmosis) have also been known to cause mono, in some rare cases. Teenagers and young adults are the most common group affected by the infection. It is not necessary that all individuals affected by mono may develop symptoms or only few infected by EBV may develop mono, itself.
EBV mainly resides in the nasal cavity and mouth, so fluids (saliva, mucus) secreted by them is highly infectious, especially saliva. Kissing is the most common mode of transmission of mono, so it is also referred as “kissing disease”. Mono caused by other viruses can be transmitted by other body fluids (such as blood or semen) and may be contracted via organ transplantations, sexual intercourse and blood transfusion.
Can Mono Go Away On Its Own?
Mono is a viral disease and till date there have been no vaccinations developed for its prevention. It is a mild infectious disease that may run its course and go away on its own without any treatment or medication. This also depends from patient to patient as each scenario is different as some patients may require no treatment and recover on their own and others may even require hospitalization. Some patients may have the virus without even being aware of it and present no symptoms and carry the virus throughout their lives. Symptoms when present subside within 4-6 weeks; however, fatigue may last several months. With proper nutrition, hydration, rest and refraining from strenuous exercise, patients may recover. Once a patient has suffered from mono, it is highly unlikely that they will contract it again as they develop immunity against the virus.
Individuals infected by EBV usually develop symptoms of mono approximately after 4-6 weeks. Symptomatology and their severity differ from individual to individual and some may not even develop symptoms, but still be the carriers for the infection. Symptoms include fever that may range from 101-104 degree F along with chills, rashes, sore throat, tiredness, malaise, headache, body ache, swollen tonsils, swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpit area, hepatomegaly and splenomegaly. In some, rare cases, splenomegaly can be so severe that the spleen may ultimately rupture, especially when there is an unwanted trauma to the abdomen/spleen.
Diagnoses Of Mono
The diagnosis of infectious mononucleosis is made based on the symptomatology of the patient. In most, no laboratory testing is required; however, some patients may be ordered lab testing, if their diagnosis is not clear or to rule out some other diagnoses. Abnormal blood work, especially lymphocytosis (increase in lymphocyte count), neutropenia, thrombocytopenia and atypical lymphocytes may be seen in infectious mononucleosis. The lab testing may also show abnormal LFTs.
Treatment For Mono
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for mononucleosis. The only cure is to alleviate the symptoms experienced by patients. Body aches, headaches and fever can be alleviated by ibuprofen and naproxen. Aspirin along with paracetamol is contraindicated in patients with mononucleosis. It is also important to stay hydrated to avoid dehydration in these patients. Swollen lymph nodes and tonsils may require a course of prednisone, which may further decrease the swelling as well as reduce the severity and duration of the disease. Mono patients may experience severe fatigue, which requires optimal amount of rest and proper intake of food and nutrition. Other symptoms may get better within a couple of months; however, fatigue symptoms may last for several months, even up to 6 months. In about 50% of cases, spleen is enlarged, so it is important for patients to avoid any contact sports until full recovery, to avoid rupture of spleen. The patients should also avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics, such amoxicillin or ampicillin, which may further worsen the infection; unless there is a secondary bacterial infection.
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