February 8, 2017

Mononucleosis, also known as the “kissing disease,” or simply “mono,” is a group of symptoms that occur in some individuals who become infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It is a common infection and often causes minimal symptoms, especially when children have it. However, in adolescents and young adults, it often causes more intense symptoms and missed school. At least 25% of teenagers and young adults who get infected with EBV will develop infectious mononucleosis.

Mononucleosis is transmitted primarily by oral contact with exchange of saliva—hence its popular name, “the kissing disease.” The incubation period is thought to be about 30 to 40 days. The disease incapacitates individuals for varying periods of time; some affected people are physically fit for normal activities within two or three weeks, while others remain ill for as long as two months.


Mononucleosis is caused by the epstein-barr virus, a member of the herpes virus family. The disease develops if the virus is encountered for the first time at an age when the response of the body’s immune system is most vigorous (that is, during adolescence and early adult life). The peak incidence of the illness occurs around the ages of 15 and 17.

Mono is contagious, although less so than the common cold. EBV passes from person to person primarily through contact with saliva. Kissing and sharing food, drinks, or utensils commonly spread the virus. Although EBV is present in the respiratory tract * , it usually is not transmitted by coughing or sneezing. Some people will become sick and be able to spread the virus for weeks, especially those who are infected but do not feel sick and pass the virus to others without realizing it. The virus usually remains inactive after the first infection, but some people may spread it from time to time throughout their life.

Risk Factors

The following factors can raise your risk for developing mono –

  • Age- Mono is most common among people ages 15 to 24. After age 35, the rate is low.
  • Blood transfusion
  • Weakened immune system


Mono is most commonly characterized by the following symptoms –

  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen glands (enlarged lymph nodes) in the neck and possibly elsewhere

Additional symptoms may also be present, including –

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Rash
  • Enlarged spleen (the organ that lies under the left-side of the rib cage)

The time between when a person is exposed to mono and when symptoms appear is around 30 to 50 days. Fever and sore throat usually go away first, but fatigue and lymph node swelling may last for one to two months. Mono is most contagious during this first period, when the fever and sore throat are present.


Severe complications are uncommon. They may include anemia, problems with the central nervous system or liver, rupture of the spleen, or inflammation of the heart. People who have had mononucleosis are at incresed risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).


There is no cure for mono, but your health care provider may prescribe the following medications to treat your symptom

  • Treating secondary infections – Occasionally, a streptococcal (strep) infection accompanies the sore throat of mononucleosis. Patients may also develop a sinus infection or an infection of the tonsils (tonsillitis).
  • Risk of rash with some medications – Amoxicillin and other penicillin derivatives aren’t recommended for people with mononucleosis. In fact, some people with mononucleosis who take one of these drugs may develop a rash. The rash, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re allergic to the antibiotic. If needed, other antibiotics that are less likely to cause a rash are available to treat infections that may accompany mononucleosis.
  • Self Help
    • Rest
    • Eating healthy foods
    • Drinking lots of fluids

Alternative Treatment

Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, to help reduce inflammation and improve immunity.

Probiotic supplement for gastrointestinal and immune health.

Vitamin C – A water soluble vitamin, vitamin C is necessary for normal growth and development. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and immune support. As such, vitamin C is an effective component of a mono treatment regimen for supporting the immune system and shortening the duration of the condition.

Green tea for antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune effects.

Echinacea to strengthen the immune system.

Astragalus seem to kill viruses.

Cranberry appears to fight viruses, although no one knows whether it works against the EBV.

Acupuncture – Although no scientific studies have reviewed the use of acupuncture for mono, it may help reduce symptoms, improve immune function, and relieve congestion (blockage of qi, or energy flow) of the liver, spleen, and lymph.

Traditional Chinese Medicine – Studies show that people with EBV have fewer symptoms when given a combination of homeopathic remedies noted in the section on homeopathy and TCM remedies including Atractylodes alba, Glycyrrhiza recens, Rehmannia preparata, Bupleurum, Cortex magnolia, Phragmites, Belamcanda, Sophora, subprostrata, Siler, Angelica dahurica, Paeonia alba, Dendrobium, Polygonatum officinal, and Cnidium. Chinese herbs are prescribed on an individual basis.


Reference –