What is it?

Infectious mononucleosis, also known as "mono" or the "kissing disease" is an infection that may cause fever, sore throat, fatigue, and/or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck. It most commonly occurs in adolescents and young adults. In general, mononucleosis is not considered a serious illness. However, mononucleosis can lead to significant loss of time from school or work due to profound fatigue and, on rare occasions, can cause severe or even life-threatening illness.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Cmv mononucleosis
- Cytomegaloviral mononucleosis
- EBV disease
- Epstein barr virus disease
- Gamma herpes mononucleosis
- Gammaherpesviral mononucleosis
- Mono
- Infectious mononucleosis

Signs & symptoms

Signs and symptoms of mononucleosis may include:
- Fatigue
- Sore throat, perhaps misdiagnosed as strep throat, that doesn't get better after treatment with antibiotics
- Fever
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits
- Swollen tonsils
- Headache
- Skin rash
- Soft, swollen spleen
The virus has an incubation period of about four to six weeks, although in young children this period may be shorter. The incubation period refers to how long before your symptoms appear after being exposed to the virus. Signs and symptoms such as a fever and sore throat usually lessen within a couple of weeks. But fatigue, enlarged lymph nodes and a swollen spleen may last for a few weeks longer.


Your doctor may suspect mononucleosis based on your signs and symptoms, how long they've lasted, and a physical exam. He or she will look for signs such as swollen lymph nodes, tonsils, liver or spleen, and consider how these signs relate to the symptoms you describe.
Blood tests can also be offered:
- Antibody tests. If there's a need for additional confirmation, a monospot test may be done to check your blood for antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus. This screening test gives results within a day. But it may not detect the infection during the first week of the illness. A different antibody test requires a longer result time, but can detect the disease even within the first week of symptoms.
- White blood cell count. Your doctor may use other blood tests to look for an elevated number of white blood cells (lymphocytes) or abnormal-looking lymphocytes. These blood tests won't confirm mononucleosis, but they may suggest it as a possibility.


There's no specific therapy available to treat infectious mononucleosis. Antibiotics do not work against viral infections such as mono. Treatment mainly involves taking care of yourself, such as getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids. You may take over-the-counter pain relievers to treat a fever or sore throat.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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