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An overview of the kissing disease

Mononucleosis, or the kissing disease, is a common viral infection that can leave you feeling tired and weak for weeks or months. Know everything about it.

Communicable Diseases By Ariba Khaliq / Jun 18, 2014

Beware of kissing

Infectious mononucleosis is often referred to as the kissing disease because the virus that causes it, is transferred through saliva and hence you can get it through kissing an infected person. However, you can also acquire the virus through a cough or a sneeze, or sharing utensils such as a glass with an infected person. Infectious mononucleosis is alternatively known as “mono”. Image Courtesy: Getty


Causes of infectious mononucleosis

Up to 90% of all infectious mononucleosis cases are caused by one of the most common viruses in humans- the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), also called human herpesvirus 4 (HHV-4). A minority of cases of infectious mononucleosis are caused by human cytomegalovirus (CMV), another type of herpes virus. This virus is found in body fluids including saliva, urine, blood, and tears. Image Courtesy: Getty


Symptoms of infectious mononucleosis

Fatigue, feeling of unwellness, sore throat that doesn’t get better with antibiotics, fever, swollen tonsils, headache, skin rash, and soft and swollen spleen are all signs and symptoms of the kissing disease. Image Courtesy: Getty


Incubation period

The EBV takes approximately four to six weeks to cause signs and symptoms of infectious mononucleosis after infecting the person’s body. This incubation period can be shorter in children. Symptoms such as fever and sore throat may get better within a few weeks but, fatigue and swollen spleen may last for a longer period. Image Courtesy: Getty


Complications of infectious mononucleosis

Mononucleosis can cause certain complications which can be more dangerous than the disease itself, such as an enlarged spleen, spleen rupture, hepatitis, and jaundice. Some of the less common complications of mono are: - anaemia, thrombocytopenia, heart problems, and complexities involving the nervous system. Image Courtesy: Getty


When to see the doctor

If you have been experiencing the above mentioned symptoms, you may have been infected with mononucleosis. In this case, you may try to relieve the symptoms with proper rest and a healthy diet. However, if these don’t help ease your problem within a week or two or if the symptoms recur, see a doctor. Image Courtesy: Getty


Preparing for the doctor’s appointment

Before you visit the doctor, make a list of symptoms that you are experiencing, write down your recent life changes, your daily routine, sleeping habits, or exposure with an infected person; jot down all the medications, vitamins, and supplements you’re taking. The doctor will probably ask you questions about all this. Image Courtesy: Getty


Diagnosis of infectious mononucleosis

The presence and duration of your signs and symptoms and a physical examination will help your doctor in suspecting mononucleosis. For an additional confirmation, he may prescribe a monospot test to check your antibodies against EBV. Other than this, a white blood cells count can also suggest a possibility of this infection; it however won’t confirm the presence of it. Image Courtesy: Getty


Treatment for infectious mononucleosis

Treatment mainly involves bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids because antibiotics don’t really work against viral infections such as mono. Hence, there is no specific therapy available to treat infectious mononucleosis. You can however take medications to treat secondary infections. Image Courtesy: Getty


Lifestyle remedies for mono

Plenty of bed rest is essential for a person infected with mono. Along with it, the patient must drink lots of water, fruit juices and other fluids to relieve fever and sore throat. An over-the-counter pain reliever can also be taken for body ache. The patient should gargle with salt water several times a day to relieve sore throat. Image Courtesy: Getty



Coping with infectious mononucleosis

The duration of mono infection is of several weeks which means that the patient needs to stay at home for all this time to fight the infection. It could lead to missing classes, office, team practices and parties. You should let your office or school/college know that you may need special considerations to keep up with your work. Seek help from family and friends as you recover from mononucleosis. Image Courtesy: Getty


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