Mononucleosis (“mono”) is an infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Research has shown that most infections occur between the ages of 15-24. The mono virus is found in saliva and mucus. It is usually passed from one person to another through kissing, although it may be passed in other ways, such as coughing, sharing utensils or cups. It is not as contagious as the common cold however.
Signs of mono usually develop 4 to 6 weeks after you're exposed to the virus. Generally, people only get mono once.
Symptoms of mono include fever (temperature over 100.4 degrees), sore throat, headaches, white patches on the back of your throat, swollen glands in your neck, feeling tired and not feeling hungry.
In addition to the physical exam, your doctor may also order a blood test to help determine if mono is the cause of your symptoms (called a Monospot).
Because mono is a virus, antibiotics do not help the infection. The best way to help your body heal the infection is to get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and get good nutrition. Symptoms of sore throat and fever will often resolve in 1-2 weeks though the fatigue associated with mono may last up to 4-6 weeks.
Complications from mono are rare but can include a bacterial infection of the throat (if this is suspected your doctor will prescribe antibiotics), or spleen enlargement which can lead to rupture (opening) in rare cases. If your doctor suspects your spleen is enlarged then he/she will tell you to avoid contact sports for up to 4-6 weeks.
For more information of ways to help the sore throat associated with mono click on the page for Sore/Strep Throat under Cold and Flu.