What is Glandular Fever?
Glandular Fever, which is also known by the name of Infectious Mononucleosis, is quite a common infection seen mostly in young adults and teenagers. The primary presenting features of Glandular Fever include sore throat, fever, lethargy, and in rare instances swelling of the lymph nodes and even hepatitis. Glandular Fever is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and is an extremely contagious infection. This virus is believed to be present in more than 90% of people around the world but it is quite rare for them to cause any symptoms and just having this virus does not mean that the person will end up with Glandular Fever. Since it is a viral infection, it goes through its normal course and fades away.
There is no cure for this condition. In some cases, Glandular Fever has also been caused by the cytomegalovirus and rubella with symptoms quite similar to that caused by the EBV virus. The contagiousness of Glandular Fever can be imagined that it can spread just by coming in contact with the saliva of an infected person. It may be in the form of a spit or through kissing. An individual with Glandular Fever is contagious for up to a week before the onset of symptoms.
During the time when the symptoms of Glandular Fever are at their peak, it is best to stay at home and rest. Once the symptoms fade away and the individual is no longer contagious he or she can resume normal activities. Some of the best practices to prevent spread of Glandular Fever include washing hands thoroughly on a regular basis. It is also essential to wash the bedding thoroughly, especially if it has traces of saliva of the infected person.
An individual with Glandular Fever should avoid kissing others or share utensils and clothing like towels. In majority of the cases, people with Glandular Fever get better within a week. However, in some cases Glandular Fever may lead to complications like anemia, pneumonia, or Bell Palsy but these are quite rare.
What Causes Glandular Fever?
Majority of the infections caused by EBV virus occur in the early childhood. As soon as the virus acts up, the immune system of the body starts producing antibodies to fight against the infection. It should be noted here that everyone with EBV virus does not get Glandular fever or have symptoms of it. Once an individual gets infected from EBV, the virus stays within the body for the rest of the life of the individual albeit in an inactive state usually in the throat and blood vessels.
The antibodies produced by the immune system will prevent the virus from acting up and it is extremely rare for Glandular Fever to recur a second time after the first episode. The only time when there is a chance of the virus becoming active again is in people with a compromised immune system. Glandular Fever is usually seen in people between the age of 15 and 25. This is because the EBV virus is most active in people of this age group.
What are the Symptoms of Glandular Fever?
It usually takes about a month after the virus has entered the body for the initial symptoms of Glandular Fever to appear. The primary presenting features of Glandular Fever include flu like symptoms with body pains and frequent bouts of headaches. The individual will also have a high grade fever of more than 100 Degree Fahrenheit. The patient will also have a red skin rash that will be spread across the body but will not itch. There will also be nausea and lack of interest in eating any food. The individual will be constantly tired and fatigued.
Sore throat is also one of the primary presenting features of Glandular Fever. In rare instances, some people also develop jaundice as a result of Glandular Fever. With regard to the sore throat as seen with Glandular Fever, it is generally mild and the throat becomes red and swollen, such as that seen in children with tonsillitis. In fact, if a person has symptoms of tonsillitis that lasts longer that normal then it may be a symptom of Glandular Fever. The patient additionally will find it tough to swallow foods due to pain.
Due to the reaction of the immune system to the virus, there is also swelling of the lymph glands. The lymph node at any area of the body may get affected and become swollen and tender. At times, Glandular Fever can also affect the spleen and cause swelling and pain.
In rare instances, the liver can also get affected by Glandular Fever resulting in inflammation. This condition is called as hepatitis and is seen mostly in people above the age of 30 with the primary presenting features being jaundice, lack of appetite, and nausea. These symptoms gradually go away once the fever comes down and the effect of the virus starts to decrease. In some cases, Glandular Fever can remain asymptomatic especially in people above the age of 40 and infants, and young children.
How is Glandular Fever Treated?
As of now, there is no cure for Glandular Fever. The infection runs its course for about a week before the symptoms start to fade away. This takes a minimum of four to six weeks. However, the symptoms can be controlled by the following.
Rest: Taking complete rest while the symptoms of Glandular Fever are at their peak is quite effective in calming down the symptoms of this condition. The patient will feel too fatigued to do anything around the house while the condition runs its course. As and when the condition improves, the patient may start doing light activities to get the muscle strength back.
Drinking Fluids: This is also an effective way of dealing with the symptoms of Glandular Fever. Drinking fluids helps prevent dehydration which is quite commonly seen in people with fever. It may be tough to swallow due to sore throat but effort should be made to ensure that adequate amount of fluid is consumed during Glandular Fever.
Painkillers: To deal with any pain or discomfort, taking over the counter pain medications are quite effective. These medications not only help with pain and discomfort but also help in calming down the pain. It should however be mentioned here that aspirin should not be given for people under the age of 16.
Salt Water Gargling: Salt water gargle is yet another way to manage sore throat caused due to Glandular Fever. The patient just needs to take some warm water and mix it with a pinch of salt. Gargling with this solution provides instant relief from the sore throat and makes swallowing easier. There are also salt water solutions available at local pharmacy stores that can be used as well.
Steroids: This may be needed in cases where the tonsils get inflamed that make breathing difficult. However, many physicians are averse to use of steroids for treatment of Glandular Fever, especially in children.
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