What Every Parent Should Know About Mono

Mar 02, 2024
What Every Parent Should Know About Mono
Mono, the common name for the infectious disease mononucleosis, typically affects teens and young adults. Also known as the kissing disease, here’s what every parent should know about mono and how it affects their child.

Mono, the common name for the infectious disease mononucleosis, typically affects teens and young adults. Perhaps because its appearance coincides with the start of dating life for many, mono also carries the nickname of “the kissing disease.” 

Mono most often stems from an infection of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a strain of herpes, but it can also start as a result of infection from other viruses. EBV is common, and most children encounter it at some point in their lives. 

Infants and young children may exhibit mild symptoms if you notice the effects at all. Teens, however, tend to bear the full brunt of the infection. 

Mono often mimics the flu or strep throat. At Abdow Friendship Pediatrics in Rockville, Maryland, our board-certified team of physicians recognizes mono by its physical effects on your child’s body and through blood tests. Here’s what every parent should know about mono and how it affects your children. 

Signs and symptoms of mono

As with many viral infections, mono tends to start with a sore throat and fever about 30-60 days after exposure to the virus. While it’s estimated that around 95% of Americans will be exposed to EBV by the time they’re 35, not everyone becomes symptomatic. Some simply carry and transmit the virus. 

Most healthy adults develop antibodies for EBV, so it’s uncommon to have mono more than once. Besides a sore throat and fever, you may notice enlarged lymph nodes in your child’s neck (sometimes called swollen glands). 

The classic sign of mono in teens is often extreme tiredness in otherwise energetic people. Other symptoms of mono include: 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and weakness
  • Rashes on their skin
  • Abdominal soreness due to a swollen liver and/or spleen

Enlargement of the liver and spleen are two indications we use to diagnose mono. Mono symptoms can last up to four weeks, with fatigue sometimes lasting longer. 

Is mono contagious? 

The EBV transmits easily through a variety of bodily fluids, most commonly from saliva, but it can also be transmitted sexually or through blood transfusions. You can spread the EBV virus even if you’ve never had a mono outbreak. 

People continue to carry EBV in their bodies for the rest of their lives, but most people develop immunity from further infections. 

Does mono have serious complications? 

Usually, mono runs its course in a matter of weeks, and it’s treated the same way you’d handle a cold or flu. Plenty of fluids and rest help your child stay comfortable. We recommend acetaminophen or ibuprofen for treating their aches and pains but avoid using aspirin. 

As well as lingering fatigue, mono often causes an enlarged spleen, and in rare cases, the spleen can rupture, causing internal bleeding that creates a medical emergency. 

Your child should discontinue strenuous exercise and contact sports for the duration of their illness while also avoiding heavy lifting and other forms of exertion to lower the risk of damage to their spleen. 

While there’s no treatment for mono beyond rest, visit Abdow Friendship Pediatrics so we can rule out other conditions that mimic mono symptoms and ensure that your child is progressing safely through their illness. Schedule an appointment by phone or online today.