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Mononucleosis or kisses of increased risk

Mononucleosis is a viral disease caused by the Ebstein-Barr virus (EBV). In the Anglo-Saxon nomenclature, in colloquial language,  is commonly referred to as a “kissing disease”. However, such nomenclature is misleading. Due to the low infectivity (for infection to occur, direct contact with saliva must occur), infections with mononucleosis caused by kissing are relatively common. In many cases, however, exposure to the virus is caused by sharing a meal or drink.

mononucleosis: pills on a black table

What are the symptoms of mononucleosis?

Mononucleosis is often asymptomatic. Its prognosis is good and is usually not a cause for excessive worry. Symptoms, if present, are similar to those of streptococcal angina. In the case of mononucleosis infection, it can be expected that after a period of about 2 weeks, the following will appear:

  • Flu-like symptoms – pain, fever, …
  • Pharyngitis and tonsillitis – coating on the tonsils, redness, bad smell from the mouth
  • Lymphadenopathy – the longest-lasting symptom, most often affects the cervical (anterior and posterior) and submandibular nodes.
  • Spleen enlargement – this is a symptom that threatens an extremely rare and dangerous complication – spleen rupture.
  • Hepatitis – a relatively common symptom, usually inflammation occurs without jaundice
  • Skin rash – if it occurs, usually looks like red spots or papules. The characteristic rash: itchy, “resembling”, occurs after administration of antibiotics such as amoxicillin. The administration of antibiotics in mononucleosis is usually caused by inaccurate diagnosis and treatment of streptococci that cause strep throat, mistaken for mononucleosis.

Treatment and prevention

There are no specific treatments. Antiviral drugs are used extremely rarely, only in the case of suspected lymphoproliferative complications.

Treatment is not necessary, if necessary, painkillers are most often used. Usually paracetamol is recommended. Be careful when taking paracetamol. Always follow the doses recommended for your age group! Other drugs in mononucleosis are used as needed, e.g. in the case of dyspnea associated with closing the airways by swelling, drugs from the group of steroids are used.

The effectiveness of treatment and avoidance of complications is related to non-pharmacological methods of improving health. Remember to rest, drink enough fluids and avoid unnecessary overexertion.

There is no effective vaccine against Ebstein-Barr virus. The methods of preventing transmission of the virus in the population are based on refraining from donating blood and avoiding sharing food / drinks, kissing with new people at potentially infectious times.

In the case of pharyngitis with the described clinical appearance, especially among young people, the symptoms should be consulted with a doctor.

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