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.

Ariba Khaliq
Written by: Ariba KhaliqPublished at: Jun 18, 2014

Beware of kissing

Beware of kissing
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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

Causes of infectious mononucleosis
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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

Symptoms of infectious mononucleosis
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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

Incubation period
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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

Complications of infectious mononucleosis
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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

When to see the doctor
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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

Preparing for the doctor’s appointment
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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

Diagnosis of infectious mononucleosis
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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 for infectious mononucleosis
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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

Lifestyle remedies for mono
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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    

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