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What is mononucleosis?

Mononucleosis (mono) is an infection caused by a virus. It is spread through saliva.

What are the signs and symptoms of mono?

  • Extreme tiredness or weakness
  • Fever
  • Headache and muscle aches
  • Sore throat or swollen tonsils
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes on the sides and back of your neck
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite

How is mono diagnosed?

Your caregiver will ask about your symptoms and examine you. You may need a blood test to learn if you have mono. Your caregiver may also do a throat culture to check for infection. A throat culture is done by rubbing a cotton swab against the back of your throat.

How is mono treated?

Your symptoms may last for 4 weeks or longer. You may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain and fever. You can buy acetaminophen without a doctor's order. Ask your caregiver how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Rest: Rest as needed. Slowly start to do more each day as you feel better.
  • Liquids: Liquids will help decrease your fever and prevent dehydration. Ask your caregiver how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Soothe your throat: Suck on hard candy or throat lozenges. Eat popsicles or frozen drinks. Mix 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and gargle.
  • Avoid exercise and contact sports: Ask when you can return to your usual activities and contact sports.

How can I prevent the spread of mono?

Do not share food or drinks. Do not kiss anyone or donate blood. The virus may be in your saliva for several months after you feel better. Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.

What are the risks of mono?

The virus will stay in your body, even after you feel better. This can increase your risk for other infections. Mono can cause your organs to swell, especially your spleen. This can increase your risk for a ruptured spleen and bleeding. Exercise and contact sports can cause your spleen to rupture while it is swollen. Your liver may also swell and cause jaundice (yellowing of your skin and eyes).

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • Your symptoms get worse, even after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You urinate very little or not at all.
  • You have severe pain in your abdomen or shoulder.
  • You have trouble swallowing because of the pain.
  • You have shortness of breath.
  • You are confused or have a seizure.
  • Your arms or legs are weak.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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