Infectious mononucleosis (kiss disease): see the symptoms

What is Infectious Mononucleosis

Infectious Mononucleosis is a disease caused, most of the times, by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is part of the herpes virus family.

Because its transmission occurs largely through saliva, the disease is popularly known as Kiss Disease, and affects mainly adolescents and young adults.

It is estimated that 50% of children have already suffered an infection caused by the Mononucleosis virus, but they will only discover this information when they are older, from the moment they need to do routine blood tests.

What are the causes

As already mentioned, Infectious Mononucleosis occurs through a virus called Epstein-Barr , one of the ones that most affects human health, but the disease can also occur due to other viruses. Once spread, this virus comes into direct contact with our oropharynx to then reach the B lymphocytes, that is, the white blood cells responsible for the production of antibodies.

How transmission occurs

Normally, the virus that causes Infectious Mononucleosis is transmitted directly through liquid fluids, mainly saliva. In addition to this form of transmission, the disease can also be transmitted through exposure to coughs and sneezes, as well as sharing cutlery and other objects of the type, such as poorly washed glasses and spoons and forks.

There are also other means of transmitting the disease, but these are more rare. They are: contact with the infected person’s blood or semen, blood transfusions and organ transplants.

What are the risk groups?

As much as the disease affects any person, of any age, all those who are in constant contact with a large number of people are more vulnerable to contracting Infectious Mononucleosis. Among the risk groups are:

  • Persons between 15 and 30 years of age;
  • Students;
  • Resident physicians;
  • Nurses;
  • Caregivers;
  • People who take drugs that suppress the immune system.

Symptoms of Infectious Mononucleosis

The most characteristic symptom of this disease is very high fever , reaching up to 40 ° C. When the infected person is a child, the disease is usually asymptomatic. But as an adult, symptoms, in addition to high fever, include:

  • Extreme fatigue;
  • General feeling of malaise;
  • Sore throat;
  • Inflammation of the throat that does not improve with the use of antibiotics;
  • Swollen tonsils;
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck and armpits;
  • Headache;
  • Rash;
  • Swollen spleen.

In most cases, symptoms in adults appear after 4 to 6 weeks after the virus has been transmitted, the incubation time of the virus. In child patients, the incubation time may be shorter.

Among these symptoms, fever and sore throat disappear in about two weeks. Already the fatigue , the enlarged lymph nodes and a swollen spleen may take up to six months to have a complete cure.

How the disease is diagnosed

In case of suspicion of the disease, you should consult with an infectologist or, in the case of children, with a pediatrician.

To diagnose Infectious Mononucleosis, it is enough to analyze the patient’s symptoms, not least because there are no specific laboratory tests for the diagnosis of the disease. However, there are some antibody tests that can be done, through blood tests, to help identify the cause of Mononucleosis. This test done on people infected with the EBV virus may show:

  • Higher than normal amount of B lymphocytes;
  • Appearance of atypical lymphocytes;
  • Lower amount of neutrophils and platelets;
  • Alteration in liver function.

Treatment of Infectious Mononucleosis

There is no specific treatment for the disease itself, much less a cure, but the specialist may recommend some medications for the treatment of symptoms, as in the case of sore throat and swelling of the tonsils.

There are some studies on the use of the drug Aciclovir so that the virus that causes the disease is prevented from proliferating in the human body, but there is nothing confirmed about the effectiveness of this type of treatment.

In addition to the use of medications to relieve the typical symptoms of Infectious Mononucleosis, other ways to cure them are:

  • Intense rest;
  • Ingestion of plenty of water and fruit juices;
  • Gargle with salt water;
  • Avoid exercising until you are completely recovered, as contact with them can cause the spleen to rupture – which is already swollen.

As much as the symptoms of the disease can be cured, the EBV virus remains in the human body for life, which prevents the cure of Infectious Mononucleosis. Therefore, once the infection spreads, the risk of transmission can be up to 18 months after symptoms appear.

Attention! 

NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Possible complications

For some time, the Epstein-Barr virus has been linked to Burkitt’s lymphoma, the most common type of cancer in tropical Africa. In addition, other complications can arise from Infectious Mononucleosis, according to the following divisions:

Blood cells

In 25% to 50% of cases, Mononucleosis can reduce the production of 3 types of blood cells. Are they:

  • Red blood cells, which makes you feel tired and out of breath;
  • White blood cells, which makes you more vulnerable to developing a secondary infection;
  • Platelets, which makes you bleed more easily.

Swelling or rupture of the spleen

About 50% of people who contract Infectious Mononucleosis suffer from excessive swelling of the spleen. This does not immediately affect the patient’s health, but if he breaks, it is certain that a very severe pain will present in the abdominal region.

The spleen rupture usually happens as a result of a problem caused by physical activities, such as contact sports. Therefore, if you are suspicious of Mononucleosis, avoiding the practice of these types of exercises helps a lot in the recovery process.

Neurological complications

It is estimated that 100 people diagnosed with the disease develop neurological complications, such as:

  • Guillain-Barré syndrome;
  • Bell’s palsy;
  • Viral meningitis;
  • Encephalitis.

Secondary infections

As already mentioned at the beginning, it is possible that some patients with very low immunity will develop other types of infections:

  • Pneumonia;
  • Pericarditis.

Prolonged fatigue

One in ten Infectious Mononucleosis patients suffer from the fatigue caused by the disease for a very long period that can last up to 6 months or more. It is not known why fatigue happens, but some experts say that this symptom may be a type of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Multiple sclerosis

Research has found that those who contract Infectious Mononucleosis are twice as likely to develop multiple sclerosis in the future. However, the chances of this happening are very low (out of 1000 people infected with EBV, only 1 to 5 people develop sclerosis).

Prevention

Currently, there is no vaccine that prevents the contraction of Infectious Mononucleosis. Therefore, the only forms of prevention – which, it is important to know, are not 100% effective – against the disease is not to kiss or share drinks and personal items with people who are infected with the EBV virus.

As the disease has several symptoms similar to others, it is important that a specialist doctor is consulted in case of any suspicion, even if it is minor. Share this article with your acquaintances, because the more people receive this information, the more easily this disease will be known and, consequently, prevented.

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