Infectious or glandular fever, also known as Mononucleosis (Mono), is a common viral infection, and it is mostly caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
Mononucleosis is most common in teenagers and young adults, but it surely can affect children.
If you want to know more about this viral infection, and what are the signs and symptoms of Mono in children, keep reading this article.
How is Mono spread?
Mono is typically referred to as “the kissing disease.” And why is that? It is because the Epstein-Barr virus that causes mono is spread through close contact, and mostly through coming into contact with the saliva of an infected person.
But of course, Mono is not only spread through kissing. It can also be transmitted through sharing of personal items, for example, drinking glasses or eating utensils. It can be spread through sneezing and coughing also.
The most common way of spreading the virus is from close contact, and that is the reason why small children can also be infected if they interact with infected playmates in school or daycare.
What are the symptoms of Mononucleosis?
The most typical symptoms of Mono are:
- feeling very tired
- sore throat
- muscle pains and aches
- enlarged lymph nodes at the neck and armpits
- enlarged spleen
The symptoms of mono appear between four to six weeks after infection. Also, children that have been recently treated with antibiotics such as amoxicillin or ampicillin may develop a pink-colored rash on some parts of their body.
An important thing to know is that sometimes children have very little symptoms, and sometimes they don’t have any. Or the symptoms are very similar to the flu, so you don’t get alarmed. If that is the case, Mono is difficult to diagnose.
If your child’s doctor suspects that your child has Mono, he will perform a blood test to be certain. This blood test is called a Monospot test. The test is easy, and it gives results in just a day. But sometimes there is a possibility for the test to inaccurate if it is performed within the first week of infection. In those cases, if Mono is still suspected, the doctor will repeat the test in one week.
Besides this test, you can also do a complete blood count test. This test will show what number of lymphocytes your child has. If it is higher, there is a high chance that your child has Mono, because people with Mono have a higher number of these blood cells that are helping our body fight infections.
What is the treatment for Mononucleosis?
You may not believe it, but there is no specific treatment for mono. It can’t be treated with antibiotics, because it is caused by a virus.
There are some things that you can do if your child has Mono. Here are those things:
Your child needs to get plenty of rest. Sometimes they don’t feel as tired or fatigued as teenagers or young adults, but be sure they get plenty of rest.
You need to prevent dehydration, and you need to make sure that your child gets plenty of water. If your child gets dehydrated, their head and body aches can become worse.
Use pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil), because they can help with the pains and aches. But never give your children aspirin.
If your child has a sore throat, give them cold drinks, like Coldeeze throat lozenge, or give them to eat popsicles or other cold food.
Another thing that can help with a sore throat is gargling with salt water.
How long does it take to recover from Mononucleosis?
Mono is not something that will go away quickly. The symptoms can go away within a few weeks, but feelings of tiredness can last for a month or even longer sometimes.
You need to make sure that your child has plenty of rest while it is recovering from mono and that they avoid any contact sports and any rough play. And once your child is ready to return to its normal activities, your child’s doctor will let you know. Sometimes if your child has severe symptoms, they will not go to school, but once the symptoms are not that rough, there isn’t a reason for your child to miss out from school or daycare. But you need to inform your child’s school about their infection, so they don’t infect other children. They will probably be excluded from some play activities or physical education classes while they are recovering.
The virus can still be found in a person’s saliva for a month or longer after the infection, so you should be aware of that. Your child should wash their hands often, and they shouldn’t share their personal items, like drinking glasses or eating utensils with other children.
What else you need to know
You should know that once you’ve had Mono the virus that caused Mono stays dormant in your body for the rest of your life. There is only a slight possibility to have Mono again sometimes in your life after having it already. If the virus does reactivate, there is a possibility that you won’t feel the symptoms. If that happens, you can pass the virus to other people.
The best way to prevent the infection is by avoiding sharing your personal items, and of course, good hygiene because there is no vaccine available to protect against the EBV that causes Mono.