First described in 1889 by Emil Pfeiffer, a German physician, as an infectious syndrome, mono is a viral disease that is also known by many other names such as infectious mononucleosis, mononucleosis, Pfeiffer’s disease, the kissing disease and as the glandular fever. Mono is a very commonly occurring disease which can affect anyone at any age but it is most frequently found among adolescents and young adults. Medical research has shown that 95 percent of adults in the United States between the ages of 35 and 40 have either had mono or have been exposed to the mono virus at some point in their lives.
Causes of Mono and Symptoms of the Disease
Mono is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) which is a member of the herpes virus family group that is found worldwide.
The most common symptoms which set mono apart from other diseases are:
- High fever (102 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit) and chills.
- Severe sore throat (pharyngeal inflammation) with a reddening of tonsils which are also coated with pus.
- Acute and constant fatigue.
- Loss of appetite which leads to weight loss.
- Abdominal pain.
- Sore muscles.
- Appearance of small red or purple spots on the body’s skin (petechiae) which are the results of slight hemorrhages of capillaries.
- Rupturing of red blood cells (hemolysis).
- Swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) in the neck area.
- Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly).
- Inflamed liver cells (hepatitis).
- Swollen liver (hepatomegaly).
- Increased levels of lymphocytes (particular variety of white blood cells) within the bloodstream.
Symptoms which are not as common in mono are:
- Reduced levels of platelets with or without reduced levels of white blood cells (thrombocytopenia).
- Rupture of hemorrhage of the spleen.
- Inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart (pericarditis).
- Inflammation of the lung tissues (pneumonitis).
- Upper respiratory congestion.
- A skin condition known as erythema multiforme and which appears as a splotchy red rash.
It is not by mistake that mono is commonly referred to as the kissing disease. After all, it is most readily spread and transmitted from one person to another via the exchange of saliva; through the direct contact of kissing, by inhaling infected droplets of saliva and/or mucus emitted into the air when coughing or sneezing, or by sharing food or drinks in the same containers or by using the same utensils.
Once people are exposed to the EBV virus; their bodies will create antibodies of immunity to it, the great majority of those exposed will never actually develop a full blown case of mononucleosis and its incubation period is between four and six. Whether or not symptoms are evident, the disease is readily transmittable.
The most commonly prescribed treatment of mono is bed rest along with:
- Acetaminophen/paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce the fever and pain.
- Corticosteroids (usually hydrocortisone or dexamethasone) are introduced intravenously if there is a risk of airway obstruction, serious thrombocytopenia or hemolytic anemia.
- Antiviral drugs such as valacyclovir reduce the overall symptoms of mono.
- Antibiotics such as ampicillin, amoxicillin or penicillin are prescribed in cases that are complicated by a secondary infection.