Does Mono Weaken Your Immune System?

Mononucleosis is the condition caused due to the infection of the Epstein Barr virus. The condition is more pronounced in patients with a compromised immune system. The recurrence of the disease did rare but found in patients with the low immune system.

Does Mono Weaken Your Immune System?

Does Mono Weaken Your Immune System?

Various strategies have been evolved by Epstein Barr virus to evade the immune system and take control of the B cells. Generally, in case of any infection due to virus or bacteria, the immune system becomes active to fight against the invaders. This is particularly done by the B cells which initiates the production of antibodies. These antibodies then fight against the infection and kill the virus or bacteria.

However, in the case of mononucleosis, the virus itself invades the B cells and takes control of the functions. It also establishes a latent infection in these B cells. This may also lead to an imbalance between the virus transformation and the immune system that leads to the development of various lymphoproliferative disorders. This is done by changing the transcription factors of the genome responsible for controlling the functions performed by B cells. These transcription factors are changed by EBNA2 transcription factor from EBV. A study also indicates that the attachment of EBNA2 to various portions of the genetic code results in the development of disease which is very unrelated. For instance, when EBNA2 attaches to one portion of genetic code, the risk of developing lymphoma increases and when EBNA2 attaches to another portion of genetic code, the risk of multiple sclerosis increases.

The Epstein Barr infection affects the bone marrow and triggers the development of a large number of lymphocytes. This large infiltration of lymphocytes may lead to splenomegaly. Further, the mononucleosis also weakens the immune system thereby reducing the capacity for fighting against infection.

It has also been seen that mononucleosis increases the incidences of autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus. Once the symptoms of the viral infection subside and the virus goes in the dormant stage, certain conditions in which patient is immunocompromised leads the infection to recur. These conditions are pregnancy, organ transplantation, and HIV infection.

Treatment Of Mono

Various treatment strategies, both clinical and non-clinical, are adopted to manage the condition. There is no effective treatment of mononucleosis and the approach is to manage the symptoms. Following are the options available to manage the symptoms.

Analgesics. The symptoms of mononucleosis related to pain include swollen tonsils and swollen lymph nodes. The patient also suffered from a sore throat. Thus, various analgesics such as ibuprofen and aspirin may be given to the patient. However, care should be taken while administering aspirin to the patient with thrombocytopenia as complication as aspirin may increase the risk of bleeding.

Antipyretics. As the body is fighting against the infection of the Epstein Barr virus, the temperature of the body is increased. Sometimes the patient experiences a very high fever. Paracetamol is administered in such patients.

Steroids. Steroids are the drugs used to reduce the inflammation. Steroids are used in the patients which have the symptoms of mononucleosis complications. These symptoms include acute anemia, thrombocytopenia, CNS disorders, and respiratory obstruction.

Antibiotics. Antibiotics are the drugs generally used in viral infection. However, this drug does not work in viral infection. Sometimes antibiotics are prescribed by the doctors to reduce the risk of opportunistic bacterial infection for an instance sore throat is caused due to streptococcus infection.

Antiviral Drugs. No antiviral drugs are effective in the treatment of infection caused by Epstein Barr virus. Acyclovir and ganciclovir may reduce the shedding of virus in the saliva, but they are not effective in complete elimination of virus from the body.

Healthy Diet. Diet is also an important strategy for the management of mononucleosis and its recurrence. Vitamin C rich foods should be incorporated into the diet.


Epstein Barr virus directly invades the B cells of the immune system and controls their function through changes in the transcription factor. Mononucleosis weakens the immune system.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 5, 2023

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