What is mononucleosis, how is it treated and treated? Infectious mononucleosis, also called the kissing disease due to its high transmissibility through saliva, is a viral disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It is a disease that is characterized by a rapid and massive contagion and which often affects adolescents. The course may be asymptomatic, without fever, but symptoms involving the throat may also occur. Because of this, mononucleosis can often be mistaken for one mild flu syndrome.
What is mononucleosis
Mononucleosis is one viral disease which infects the oropharyngeal tissues and for this reason can manifest itself with pharyngitis, inflammation of the tonsils and cough. It is quite contagious and is mainly transmitted through saliva, hence it is also known as the kissing disease. And this is also the reason why it is particularly common among teenagers.
However, mononucleosis can also affect children and adults. Another mode of transmission, albeit less frequent, is the exchange of saliva through the use of shared cutlery or glasses. Furthermore, in the youngest, the infection can occur through the exchange of toys, which often come into contact with saliva. Finally, the disease can strike as a result of sexual intercourse or transfusion of infected blood.
The causes of mononucleosis
Mononucleosis is caused by virus di Epstein Barr (EBV), belonging to the same family of herpes viruses. The latter are the pathogens responsible for diseases such as chicken pox, cold sores and shingles. Like any viral disease, it is contracted by coming into contact with an infected person. Risk factors are having a weakened immune system, frequenting crowded places and not paying particular attention to hygiene.
The symptoms of mononucleosis
How do you know you have mononucleosis? This disease occurs often asymptomatically, so much so that many people have developed antibodies without knowing it. In some cases, however, it manifests itself with symptoms such as fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and general malaise. Often, the tonsils are covered with a whitish coating or yellowish plaques.
For adults and adolescents, the peak of the disease occurs approximately 3-6 weeks after infection. For children, on the other hand, the incubation period is shorter and generally ranges from 2 to 3 weeks. There acute phase of the disease it lasts about 15 days, but general weakness and malaise can last much longer.
If you suspect you have mono, it’s fine perform blood tests for a precise diagnosis. Thus, the anti-VCA (viral capsid antigen) antibodies of the IgG and IgM class must be sought. The immunoglobin class IgM indicates that the virus is active, while in the presence of high IgG values and low IgM values it means that the disease has been contracted in the past.
How to prevent mononucleosis
It’s possible prevent mononucleosis? As with all viral diseases, the only way to protect yourself from contagion is to avoid direct contact with infected people or objects used by them. The virus is transmitted both when the disease occurs, but also in the days following recovery.
Treatment for mononucleosis
There is no cure for the disease, but only one can be used symptomatic therapy which will therefore have to aim at lowering the fever or reducing the sore throat. For this reason, antipyretics for fever and painkillers are used. Only in the most serious cases is it possible to resort to corticosteroid drugs, to keep any airway problems under control. On the other hand, antibiotics, which are completely useless against the virus, should not be used.
In the course of any disease, it matters rest in bed and avoid physical exertion. These precautions should also be taken for a few weeks after healing, to avoid a dreaded complication: spleen rupture, a very rare but very dangerous occurrence. Children and people who practice sport at a professional level are at greatest risk.
The Epstein Barr virus, just like the one that causes herpes, remains dormant in the body even after illness. Over the years, it can reactivate itself resulting in a long-term consequence of mononucleosis, chronic fatigue syndrome. This disturbance causes general malaise and debilitation, which can last even for a few months.