Mononucleosis, also known as the kissing disease or just ‘mono,’ is an infectious and contagious illness. As the name suggests, it’s a disease individuals can catch through kissing, but it’s also spreadable through other mouth-swapping activities, like sharing utensils or drinks. In other words, mono usually spreads through saliva, including spit from a cough. As a general rule, if something an infected individual used is still wet, the virus is still present. Though it is a contagious disease, mononucleosis is less likely to spread than the common cold. If indivduals contract mono, it’s usually not serious, but serious complications can occur. When symptoms appear, patients may need to stop normal activity for a few weeks.
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A Sore Throat
Experiencing an irritated throat could be the result of all kinds of conditions, and it’s common for individuals to wonder if their inflammation is due to something worse than a typical cold. In particular, mono and strep throat are two more serious conditions that can cause a severe sore throat. In both scenarios, teenagers are vulnerable to infection and may experience enlarged tonsils, as well as red and white patches in the back of the throat in the case of strep. Left untreated, mononucleosis and strep throat both cause complications later in life, such as a weakened immune system and rheumatic fever.
Only a small percentage of irritated throats are caused by mono, but if patients are also experiencing enlarged lymph nodes, high internal temperature, and severe pain in the throat, they should go to the doctor to get a proper diagnosis. There are simple, standard tests the doctor can perform at the office with little difficulty.
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Also known as a high temperature, a fever is not an illness on its own. Usually, it presents as a symptom indicating something else is wrong in the body, usually an infection. Physical discomfort usually accompanies high temperature, with most patients feeling back to normal once their internal temperature goes back to normal. However, depending on the patient’s age, how healthy they are, and what exactly is causing their high temperature, such as mononucleosis, they may require additional medical treatment beyond alleviating the temperature’s discomfort.
A high temperature is the body’s natural defense against infection. However, there are other causes beyond mono and infectious illnesses that can cause this condition. A high temperature on its own is not a dangerous condition, but hyperthermia can greatly worsen the effects. This could be due to a severe temperature-related injury like heat stroke, a stroke, or the side effects of medications. If hyperthermia and not mono is to blame, the body will not be able to maintain its temperature at all.
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Just about everyone works so hard that they get more tired than they can ever remember. These instances of temporary weariness usually have a reason the patient can pinpoint to, as well as a trusted remedy. Unrelenting exhaustion, however, is a deeper, more profound tiredness that persists and never lets up, reducing the individual’s energy despite the amount of sleep they had the night before. It continues and creates a sense of burden on the patient’s psychological and emotional health as well. This persistent exhaustion also may be difficult to pinpoint to a single activity, indicating it is due to something more serious and internal. One of the conditions that can cause this fatigue is mononucleosis.
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Swollen Lymph Nodes And Tonsils
Tonsillitis occurs when the tonsils become inflamed either due to viral or bacterial infection, such as mononucleosis. Some of the more common symptoms include high temperature, difficulty swallowing, irritated throat, swollen neck glands, and swollen lymph nodes and tonsils. The treatment patients must undergo depends on whether the cause is viral or bacterial. In some cases, such as with severe mono, it is possible patients will need to undergo surgery to remove their tonsils, the two small balls of tissue located at the back of the throat. They’re made of similar tissue as the lymph nodes and are believed to assist the body in fending off infection early on in life; removing them later in life does not seem to affect a patient’s immunity. Strep throat is another possible cause for tonsillitis, like mono, and can cause rheumatic fever complications when left untreated, as well as kidney disease and heart damage. For this reason alone, it is always a good idea to speak with a doctor if you are experiencing tonsillitis and swollen lymph nodes.
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Even though it may feel otherwise, a headache is not a pain that occurs within the brain itself. Actually, although this organ is the one responsible for understanding when the rest of the body feels hurt, it does not feel pain on its own. Most of these aches occur within the muscles, blood vessels, and nerves covering the neck and head. The blood vessels and muscles can tighten and swell, and the nerves can experience pressure while alerting the brain of pain, resulting in the ache. Whether individuals think their headache is due to mono or migraines, it is important for them to see a doctor to pinpoint the cause and develop a treatment plan. Sometimes, all patients will need to do is change their sleeping habits. Other times they’ll have to treat the true underlying cause, such as if mono is the cause.
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Soft And Swollen Spleen
The spleen is an organ that serves as a blood filter and plays an important role in relation to red blood cells. It is also important to the immune system because it removes old cells and recycles iron. When patients get an infection, they can suffer from a soft and swollen spleen. Mononucleosis is an illness that can affect the spleen and cause these symptoms. Normally patients cannot feel a normal-sized spleen. But, when it is infected by a virus like mononucleosis, it can become enlarged and easily felt by a medical professional. A swollen or otherwise enlarged spleen can be asymptomatic or cause fatigue, pain, or anemia. If patients are suffering from any pain, they should make sure to let their doctor know so they can evaluate it and determine if any further testing is needed.
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Rash On The Skin
Another warning sign of mononucleosis is a rash on the skin. The rash related to this condition presents as a measles-like rash, which looks like tiny pink splotches on the skin. Patients should, of course, make sure what they are suffering from is not the measles because that can be very dangerous. Some patients take antibiotics because they may have been suffering from a sore throat associated with mono. When this happens, a rash might suddenly appear, which can be an important symptom to convey to a doctor because it can help lead to a faster diagnosis. When patients get a diagnosis faster, they can begin to get treatment faster and limit the exposure of mono to others. Individuals want to try to keep mononucleosis contained so others do not catch it and pass it on. A rash might not seem like an important symptom and seem like just a nuisance, but it can be important information.
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Loss Of Appetite
Many times, when individuals are ill, including with mononucleosis, they experience a loss of appetite. This symptom can be associated with many other conditions, but when it is viewed with other potential symptoms of mononucleosis, it can lead a doctor to the diagnosis of a potential mononucleosis case. This kind of illness might make patients not want to eat because they have a sore throat or a general feeling of being unwell. It is important to try to eat as normally as possible, however, because it is important for patients to keep up their strength to fight the infection and get on the road to recovery. Avoiding dehydration and ensuring the body has enough energy from food are both keys to maintaining this strength.
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Muscle Aches And Weakness
Another common symptom of mononucleosis includes muscle aches and weakness. Patients can experience these symptoms because their white blood cells are working to fight against the infection. They can also be the result of being dehydrated, so it is important to drink enough fluids. Patients can take over-the-counter medicines to try alleviating these symptoms, but they will not go away completely until mononucleosis itself is treated and the body recovers. Muscle aches and weakness can affect different parts of the body, and can indicate illnesses besides mononucleosis, which is why patients need to make sure they convey all their symptoms to the doctor.
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Jaundice occurs when the skin or the whites of the eyes look yellow. Patients dealing with this symptom may also experience dark urine or itchiness. This is caused by there being too much bilirubin in the blood. This happens when too many red blood cells break down and are present in the blood, causing waste to buildup. While many of the other symptoms are common with mononucleosis, jaundice is relatively rare. However, it is possible to suffer from mild liver damage. This would mean the yellowing of the skin is a temporary situation. As the levels of bilirubin become steady and level out, jaundice will go away, and the skin and eyes will return to their proper colors. Doctors can help diagnose mononucleosis and treat the condition so the discoloration can either be reversed or prevented.