Mononucleosis Treatment

  • Treatment

    A medical doctor should immediately be contacted if abdominal pain occurs, if breathing becomes difficult or noisy, or if symptoms suddenly worsen.

    Plenty of bed rest and maintaining adequate fluid intake (especially water) is essential. To ease the painful sore throat often caused by mono, gargle with warm salt water. Warm chicken soup is a traditional remedy that also helps to soothe sore throats. Throat lozenges or hard candies can also provide temporary relief for a sore throat, but should not be given to children under the age of four because of the danger of choking.

    Acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol) or ibuprofen (for example, Advil) can be taken for fever and to relieve the pain of sore throat and/or swollen lymph nodes. Avoid giving aspirin to anyone under the age of 20. Its use has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a serious childhood disorder in which a chemical imbalance in the blood causes vomiting and drowsiness.

    Mono can cause a person's spleen to swell to two or three times its normal size; however, sometimes that enlargement is not noticed. An enlarged spleen is susceptible to life-threatening rupture. Ruptured spleens happen infrequently, but when they do they nearly always occur between 4 and 21 days after the onset of symptoms. Emergency surgery to remove the damaged spleen is then required.

    To avoid damage to a possibly enlarged spleen, individuals recovering from mono should not engage in contact sports. They should also avoid vigorous or strenuous activities for at least four weeks after symptoms disappear. An athlete who participates in a contact sport (football, hockey, etc.) should have his or her physician's permission before returning to the sport.

    Your doctor is the best source of information on the drug treatment choices available to you.

    The need for surgery is infrequent. However, if the spleen ruptures, which occurs in only 0.1% to 0.2% of all cases, a surgical operation to remove it is necessary.

    AIDS patients and patients who have had organ transplants usually experience more severe symptoms that linger longer. This is due to their suppressed or weakened immune systems.

    Most people recover and are able to return to normal activities within two to four weeks. Generally 20% of patients can return to school or work within one week, and 50% can return within two weeks. Although you or your loved ones may be able to resume normal activities, don't be surprised if it takes another couple of weeks to return to full energy.

    Once the disease has run its course, an infected person cannot be re-infected.

    While the disease normally runs its course in a matter of weeks, in 2% of all cases the symptoms of fatigue and lack of energy can linger for several months. According to a one study as many as 38% of a group of high school and college students reported failure to recover two months after visiting a doctor for mono. Six months later, 12% of the students had still not recovered. Those not recovering complained of decreased vitality, continuing pain, poorer physical functioning, and poorer general health.

    Another recent study has shown an association between infectious mono and an increased risk for Hodgkin's disease. Little is known, however, about how infectious mono might affect long-term risk for getting Hodgkin's disease, about how that risk might vary in different age groups, or how it might vary depending on the person's age at the time of infection. It, too, is undoubtedly a topic we will be reading or hearing about in the future.

    Follow-up is not indicated unless symptoms persist for more than a month.

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