Mononucleosis (Mono): The Kissing Disease


Apr 26, 2019


How much do you know about Mono? For most people, unless they work in the medical field or have experienced the illness themselves, their understanding of the condition is limited to hallway gossip from their high school days.

Fortunately, the age of information has made it significantly easier for us to research facts. While this is in no way intended to serve as a stand-in for a proper medical diagnosis, below is an overview of Mononucleosis, how to recognize its symptoms, and how to properly treat it.

What is Mononucleosis?

Mono is short for Mononucleosis; also known as the “kissing disease”. The reason for the moniker is that the illness is transmitted through saliva. While kissing is indeed one way of contracting Mono, it’s also possible to acquire it from a person with Mono who sneezes or coughs around you, or if you share drinks, food, utensils, or lipstick with someone who has the virus.

Mono can also be contracted through bodily fluids and blood transfusions.

Causes of Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus.

Mononucleosis Symptoms

Symptoms of Mononucleosis could initially be confused with the common cold or flu. These include:

How Long Does Mono Last?

Typically, a strain of the Mononucleosis virus remains in the system for two to four weeks. However, even when the condition is no longer contagious, the patient can be left with symptoms for much longer; sometimes up to six months.

When to See a Doctor

You should see a doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of Mono. This is because he or she will confirm whether what you’re experiencing is Mononucleosis or something more serious. For example, symptoms of strep throat are very similar to those of Mononucleosis, yet strep throat requires antibiotics, while Mono does not. In addition, Mono can result in complications (as described below) that require immediate medical attention.

Mononucleosis Diagnosis and Treatment

For the most part, medical providers are able to diagnose Mono based on the patient’s symptoms. The doctor may order blood tests to determine whether the virus has affected the spleen, liver or other body systems.

Once diagnosed, the doctor will likely recommend over-the-counter medications to alleviate symptoms and advise you to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.

Mononucleosis Complications

The most common complications of Mononucleosis include:

  1. Enlarged spleen. The concern here is that the spleen could rupture. This is why it’s especially important to take a break from strenuous activity, such as exercise and sports while you’re recovering from Mono.
  2. Jaundice. Mono can cause the skin to turn yellow. This is a result of excess bilirubin, which is a yellowish substance that’s typically filtered from the blood through the liver. Mononucleosis can make it difficult for the liver to adequately filter bilirubin.
  3. Hepatitis. Mononucleosis can result in inflammation of the liver.

Mononucleosis Prevention

Since there is no vaccine to prevent Mononucleosis, it’s up to you to decrease your chance of contagion. Avoid sharing food, drinks, and personal items. Practice safe sex (especially when engaging in oral sex), and wash your hands often.

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you believe you may have Mononucleosis, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.