One common fatigue disorder is mononucleosis. Mononucleosis is an infectious viral disease that is transferred in saliva or kissing. You can spread mono to someone else through kissing, sharing food or drinks, coughing, or sneezing. The cause of mono is the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). EBV is a member of the herpesvirus family and one of the most common human viruses. Most people become infected with EBV at some point in their lives – 95% of adults between 35 – 40 years of age have been infected.
When children become infected with EBV, there are often no symptoms. When EBV infection occurs during adolescence or young adulthood, 35% – 50% of the time mononucleosis results.
Symptoms of mononucleosis include:
– Sore throat that is different than a regular sore throat you get from a cold
– Enlarged lymph nodes in throat, neck and arms
– Loss of appetite
– Extreme Fatigue
– Malaise (a general feeling of being unwell)
– Enlarged spleen and liver
– Liver tenderness
– Skin rash
– Swelling around the eyes
If your doctor suspects that you may have mono, he/she will run a series of blood tests. It is usually standard procedure for physicians to run a CBC test (complete blood count), a mono test and a throat swab culture. If the patient’s blood test for mono is negative, but they have the symptoms, an EBV antibody test is run.
There aren’t any prescription medications given to treat mono itself. Pain medications can be prescribed though to treat any pain the mono patient may have if it is significant. When I had mono, I was instructed to:
– Get plenty of bed rest
– Drink plenty of fluids
– Take pain medication as prescribed
Complications of Mononucleosis
A significant complication of mono is the enlargement of the spleen. In extreme cases, your spleen may rupture, causing sharp, sudden pain in the left side of your upper abdomen. If such pain occurs, seek medical attention immediately you may need surgery.
Most people with mononucleosis have mild liver inflammation (hepatitis). A yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice) occurs occasionally, usually in people older than 35. About half the people with mononucleosis have a low count of platelets, which are blood cells involved in clotting.
Less common complications of mono can include anemia, inflammation of the heart, nervous system complications (meningitis, seizures, Bell’s palsy, Guillain-Barre syndrome), and swollen tonsils that can lead to obstructive breathing.
There have been some CFS people who report that they originally had mono which later turned into CFS. I was initially diagnosed with mononucleosis and had all of the symptoms, including the swollen spleen. But was that mono or was that CFS?
Prognosis of Mononucleosis
The fever usually drops in 10 days, and swollen lymph glands and spleen heal in 4 weeks. Fatigue usually goes away within a few weeks, but may linger for 2 to 3 months.
I have known some people with mono who said they never felt good again after they contracted mono. Our former babysitter had mono when she was 13 years old and she said she never felt as though she recovered. She is always fatigued and doesn’t have the stamina a normal teenager should have.