Mono and Epstein Barr Symptoms – is it really a kissing disease?

Infectious Diseases

 Epstein Barr Symptoms & Mono

Is Mono really a kissing disease? 

Most kids are exposed to mono by the time they are adolescents, though few will become ill with the disease, which can linger for months. I have had mono twice (yes it is possible, though uncommon), and know well how frustrating it is to feel endlessly fatigued and struggle with a sore throat for weeks. Rest assured, it will be over soon!

What is mono (mononucleosis)?

Mono is a viral infection that causes fatigue, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck. It is often called ‘the kissing disease’ as it spreads though saliva and close contact with those infected.

Mono is most commonly caused by Epstein Barr Virus, though other viruses, like cytomegalovirus can also cause the same symptoms.

What does Mono look like?

Many people with mono have fatigue, sore throat and malaise. Most children with mono have swollen glands in the neck, and pus in the throat. Some will get a rash (little red dots) if they are misdiagnosed as having a bacterial infection (like strep throat) and receive Amoxicillin.

 

Epstein Barr Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Sore throat when swallowing
  • Swollen throat glands
  • Enlarged spleen
  • General ill feeling
  • Decreased appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Decreased appetite

Some kids get headache, jaundice (skin turns yellow), neck stiffness, cough, chest pain or shortness of breath.

How can I tell if my child has mono?

Doctors can check the blood for evidence of mono (monospot test or antibody titers). The white blood cell count may also be higher than normal, with an elevated ‘abnormal lymphocyte’ count.

Treatment

Unfortunately, treatment for mono is mostly symptomatic. Rest is the most important factor. For sore throat, fever and aches, I suggest Ibuprofen, which is a great fever and pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. For very severe cases, steroids may be prescribed.

Have your child drink lots of fluids, and he/she can gargle with salt water to relieve some throat discomfort. The best medicine for sore throat – honey and warm water. Honey may have the power to shorten the duration of the virus too!

Is there anything to be avoided?

Children with mono must avoid contact sports or anything that places they abdomen at risk of injury. This is because children with mono may have swollen spleens that are susceptible to rupture.

How long does it last?

Fever associated with mono often abates within a week or two, and sore throat and swollen glands up to a month. Most recover fully by 2-3 months.

Complications

  • Bacterial infections of the throat
  • Hepatitis leading to jaundice
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Orchitis – inflammation of the testicles
  • Nervous system (brain) complications
    • Seizures
    • Meningitis
    • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
    • Bell’s palsy (temporary facial paralysis)
  • Spleen rupture
  • Death – in people with compromised immunity

When to see your doctor

If your child is feeling well and looks well, there is no need to see a doctor unless you are worried. Most kids with mono never undergo testing and do not become unwell.

See your doc if you child has:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Persistent fever for more than 5 days
  • Severely swollen tonsils
  • Yellow skin color
  • Arm or leg weakness

Can you prevent getting mono?

Yes and no. It is very contagious and can live outside the body for hours. Obviously, try to avoid contact with people that have mono, though you can be contagious without having obvious symptoms, which is hard to avoid.

If your child is coughing a lot here’s a great article on Croupy Cough!

The general information provided on the Website is for informational purposes and is not medical advice.

Do NOT use this Website for medical emergencies.

If you have a medical emergency, call a physician or qualified healthcare provider, or CALL 911 immediately. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-treatment based on anything you have seen or read on this Website. Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed and qualified health provider in your jurisdiction concerning any questions you may have regarding any information obtained from this Website and any medical condition you believe may be relevant to you or to someone else. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Mono and Epstein Barr Symptoms – is it really a kissing disease?

Infectious Diseases

Our Kids Need To Log Off And Get Moving

Do your kids come home from school, drop their backpacks, and hit the sofa for hours of TV, computer, or video games? Do they spend weekends messaging friends or updating their social media platforms?

Shockingly, Canadian kids log an average of just under eight hours of screen time each day – more time each week than their parents spend at work says ParticipACTION, the national voice of physical activity and sport participation. Further, the organization confirms that only 5% of our children are active enough to meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, which recommend at least an hour of heart-pumping exercise or active play every day. You may think your kids are active enough, but the odds are stacked against it.

Excess screen time has been linked to obesity, declining physical, mental and emotional health, poor academic performance, behavioural issues, and less time for play. Can you imagine the boost to our children’s health if we substitute just an hour of screen time for active play every day?

Excess screen time has been linked to obesity, declining physical, mental and emotional health, poor academic performance, behavioural issues, and less time for play.

Encourage your kids to log off, head outdoors, and to enjoy more active play. Better yet, be an active role model and join them! These tips can help:

  • Help your kids understand the value of active play: exercise, a connection with nature, time with friends, feeling happier, increased energy, and an opportunity to try new activities;
  • Be a role model and limit your own screen time. Log off and give your kids your undivided attention;
  • Encourage a balance between homework and active time throughout the school year – even kids in high school need time to play;
  • Encourage your kids to invite friends over after school and on weekends for active outdoor play;
  • Remove TVs and computers from your child’s room – and have them power down all devices an hour or two before bed;
  • Watching TV? Be active at commercial breaks;
  • Let babysitters and teachers know you strive for a balance between screen time and active time and encourage them to do the same;
  • Advocate for more active breaks at school – some schools are allowing children to stand at their desks and are building physical activity into curriculum strands. The more our kids move, the better!

We struggle with screen time at our house too. Both my daughters (ages 13 and 16) have a tendency to turn to their devices the instant they find themselves with free time on their hands. Role modelling, stressing the importance of finding balance in life, helping my kids discover and pursue a variety of active interests, encouraging them to be their own transportation, and encouraging them to get together with friends, have all helped replace screen time with active time.
Is too much screen time a concern at your house?

How have you helped counter it?

Let us know your tips @DrDinaKulik and @Cate_Cameron.

Worried about playground safety? What to do when the weather is gross outside?

The general information provided on the Website is for informational purposes and is not medical advice.

Do NOT use this Website for medical emergencies.

If you have a medical emergency, call a physician or qualified healthcare provider, or CALL 911 immediately. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-treatment based on anything you have seen or read on this Website. Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed and qualified health provider in your jurisdiction concerning any questions you may have regarding any information obtained from this Website and any medical condition you believe may be relevant to you or to someone else. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

About Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.

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