Known as the kissing disease the proper term for mono is Infectious Mononucleosis. It gets this nickname due to the way the disease transfers, which is through an exchange of saliva. Exposure to the virus occurs through an exchange of saliva with the infected. Saliva exchange can occur when you kiss, share utensils or are exposed to the coughing and sneezing of someone with the disease.
Adolescents and young adults are the most likely to contract mono due to their increased risk of exposure. Mono is not considered a serious illness. The real cause for concern being complications that can arise due to the symptoms of the disease.
The symptoms of mono include:
Some people can have all the symptoms while others may have very mild to no symptoms at all. They usually start within 4 to 6 weeks after you get the virus. The contraction of the Epstein-Barr virus is what causes Mono. Exposure to the virus doesn’t guarantee that you will get mono. EPV is in the same family as the herpes virus. People can have it for their whole lives without showing any symptoms. EPV infects 85%-90% of adults in the U.S. by the time they're 40.
The disease spreads through an exchange of bodily fluids. The main way of transferring is through saliva, but mono can also be contracted through infected blood and semen. The signs and symptoms of mono should lessen after a few weeks. Some such as fatigue and sore throat can last longer. In extreme cases, symptoms can remain for up to 6 months after you get the disease.
An enlarged spleen is a common symptom of mono. There is a risk of the spleen rupturing in which case you will feel a sharp sudden pain in the left upper abdomen. It is important to contact a doctor immediately if you feel any intense pain.
Complications in the liver can also occur. This includes hepatitis which is an inflammation of the liver. A yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes can also occur which is known as Jaundice
Less common complications include Anemia, which is a decrease in red blood cells and hemoglobin. Also, a condition that is known as thrombocytopenia, a low count of platelets, the blood cells responsible for clotting. Mono can also cause inflammation of the heart muscle, complications involving the nervous system, and swollen tonsils.
Serious complications are more likely if you have a compromised immune system. The AIDS virus and organ transplants are a few causes of a lowered immune system.
There is no vaccine to prevent mononucleosis. If you have the disease it is recommended that you avoid kissing and sharing utensils with other people. Wash your hands often to prevent spreading the disease. Be aware that you can still be contagious for months after contracting mono. It is important to note that mono isn’t as contagious as some infections such as the cold.
If you’re experiencing any serious complications due to the mono virus it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Sharp pain in the abdomen indicates that your spleen may have ruptured which requires emergency surgery. Mono symptoms can affect your day to day life so know the signs and avoid spreading the disease if you know you have it.