Infectious mononucleosis (mono) is often called the kissing disease. The virus that causes mono (Epstein-Barr virus) is spread through saliva. You can get it through kissing, but you can also be exposed by sharing a glass or food utensils with someone who has mono. However, mononucleosis isn't as contagious as some infections, such as the common cold.
You're most likely to get mononucleosis with all the signs and symptoms if you're a teen or young adult. Young children usually have few symptoms, and the infection often goes undiagnosed.
If one have mononucleosis, it's important to be careful of certain complications such as an enlarged spleen. Rest and enough fluids are keys to recovery.
Signs and symptoms of mononucleosis may include:
- Sore throat, perhaps misdiagnosed as strep throat, that doesn't get better after treatment with antibiotics
- Swollen lymph nodes in your neck and armpits
- Swollen tonsils
- 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.
The most common cause of mononucleosis is the Epstein-Barr virus, but other viruses also can cause similar symptoms. This virus is spread through saliva, and you may catch it from kissing or from sharing food or drinks.
Although the symptoms of mononucleosis are uncomfortable, the infection resolves on its own without long-term effects. Most adults have been exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus and have built up antibodies. This means they're immune and won't get mononucleosis.
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