Mono is often caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It may also be caused by cytomegalovirus (CMV). Both viruses are members of the herpes simplex virus family.
Mono is most often spread by contact with infected spit (saliva). But it can also be spread through blood or other body fluids. It's hard to keep it from spreading because even people with no symptoms can carry the virus in their saliva and infect other people.
Most healthy people who get the CMV virus have few or no symptoms. Some may develop symptoms. EBV causes symptoms more often.
Symptoms of mono can take between 4 to 6 weeks to appear. They can last for weeks or months. They usually don’t last beyond 4 months. Tiredness and trouble thinking may last for months longer.
The most common symptoms of mono include:
Once a child gets mono, the virus says inactive in the body for life but rarely develops symptoms of mono.
The symptoms of mono can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. The provider will give your child a physical exam. The symptoms may be enough to diagnose mono. The diagnosis may be confirmed with blood tests for:
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Prescriptions medicines are rarely needed in the treatment of mono. Because mono is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not help your child get better. In rare cases in which swelling of the throat and tonsils are making breathing hard, your child may need corticosteroids. If breathing becomes difficult, your child should see an ear, nose, and throat doctor (otolaryngologist). In most cases of mono, care to ease symptoms is all that is needed.
To ease symptoms, help your child:
The spleen may enlarge because of the virus. The spleen is then at risk of rupture if your child is injured or in an accident. To protect the spleen, your child should not play any contact sports until fully recovered.
Both EBV and CMV stays in a person's cells for life, even after the symptoms of the virus are gone. The virus can become active again, but it usually doesn't cause symptoms. Most healthy people who get the CMV virus have no long-term health effects.
Call the healthcare provider if your teen or young adult has:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
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