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MONONUCLEOSIS (KISSING DISEASE)

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Infectious mononucleosis (mono) is often called the kissing disease. The virus that causes mono is transmitted through saliva, so you can get it through kissing, but you can also be exposed through a cough or sneeze, or 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.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • General feeling of unwellness (malaise)
  • Sore throat, perhaps a strep throat that doesn’t get better with antibiotic use
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck and armpits
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Headache
  • Skin rash
  • Soft, swollen spleen

The virus has an incubation period of approximately four to six weeks, although in young children this period may be shorter. Signs and symptoms such as fever and sore throat usually lessen within a couple of weeks, although fatigue, enlarged lymph nodes and a swollen spleen may last for a few weeks longer.

Medications

  • Treating secondary infections. Occasionally, a streptococcal (strep) infection accompanies the sore throat of mononucleosis. You may also develop a sinus infection or an infection of your tonsils (tonsillitis). If so, you may need treatment with antibiotics for these accompanying bacterial infections.
  • Risk of rash with some medications. Amoxicillin and other penicillin derivatives aren’t recommended for people with mononucleosis. In fact, some people with mononucleosis who take one of these drugs may develop a rash. The rash, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re allergic to the antibiotic. If needed, other antibiotics that are less likely to cause a rash are available to treat infections that may accompany mononucleosis.
  • Corticosteroids. To ease some of your symptoms, such as severe swelling of your throat and tonsils, your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid medication such as prednisone.

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