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May 2016 | Volume 6, Number 5



To see Children's of Alabama experts discuss this topic, click here.

Mononucleosis or “Mono” for short is known as “the kissing disease,” but it’s not only spread through kissing.  Mono is a virus that presents flu-like symptoms. It’s usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). 

Dr. Gigi Youngblood is a pediatrician with Pediatrics East in Trussville. She says the symptoms of Mono often resemble the flu. They include: 

Symptoms of Mono

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Sore Throat
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Body Aches

Mono can also cause an enlarged liver or spleen, which is often a sign of the infection. 

Dr. Youngblood explains, “The Epstein-Barr Virus can cause enlargement of the spleen and that can create problems as kids are recovering for return to sports.” She says when a patient is diagnosed with Mono, it’s crucial they get a lot of rest and avoid strenuous activity until their physician tells them it’s OK to return to activity. “Even activities as simple as wrestling with their sibling,” Dr. Youngblood says, “you need to check with your doctor before resuming any contact.”

Mono usually lasts 7-10 days, but recovery can take as long as several weeks or even months.  The child’s pediatrician should determine when it’s safe to resume activity. 

Mono is transmitted through saliva. It can be spread through kissing, exposure to coughing or sneezing, or sharing drinks or utensils. Proper hygiene can help prevent Mono.

Prevention of Mono

  • Hand washing
  • Avoid sharing drinks, utensils
  • Encourage children to cover mouth, sneeze in arm

In most cases, children who get Mono recover completely with plenty of rest and fluids.  But in rare cases, complications can occur. If your child’s symptoms linger, talk with their doctor.  

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