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More about Mono (March 2008)

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as many as one in 500 people in their teens and 20s will be infected with mononucleosis, an infectious disease often spread by sharing drinks and kissing. Though “mono” isn’t considered serious, those infected with it can face complications that can alter their lifestyle for as long as a few months. Fortunately, there are treatments that can help.

Infectious mononucleosis—also known as the “kissing disease” and “glandular fever”—causes its sufferers to initially experience a lack of energy, appetite loss, and chills, which can then progress to more serious symptoms such as severely sore throat, fever (usually 102˚ to 104˚F), and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. The spleen and liver can swell, and some patients will develop a red rash that resembles the measles.

Diagnosing the Disease

In order to diagnose mono, physicians evaluate the patient’s symptoms and then perform blood tests that will identify an increase of white blood cells called lymphocytes (which can suggest mono is present in its earliest stages.) Later, more specific blood tests called the monospot and heterophile antibody tests can confirm that mono is present.

Am I Contagious?
Though it’s known as the “kissing disease,” mono may spread by any form of person-to-person contact. From the time of exposure until symptoms appear—usually between four and six weeks—you’re able to spread the virus to others. Fortunately, however, the majority of the population was exposed to the virus while they were children. As a result, they have developed immunity to mono and will probably not develop the condition.

How Do I Get Treated?

While mono usually resolves itself with time, specific treatment for the condition is usually not necessary. Instead, physicians will typically prescribe medications that will help relieve some of the symptoms of mono. Usually, patients will take acetaminophen to relieve their fever and body aches, and sleep to relieve the extreme fatigue that can persist for weeks or even months.

Can Mono Be More Serious?
The more common complications of mono—such as liver or spleen problems—are usually not serious. The more serious complications—including red blood cell destruction, heart problems, and brain inflammation—are extremely rare and tend to only develop in those who are considered immunocompromised.

Sleep Tips for Teens

Whether your teen has mononucleosis or not, refreshing sleep is critical to his or her well-being. So how much sleep does the average teen need? You might be surprised.

According to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (, teens require at least nine hours of regular, nightly sleep. Good sleep helps teens reduce their risk for attention difficulties, frustration, and emotional control.

If your teen is having difficulties sleeping, get him or her to try some of these tips:

  • Eliminate distractions—such as the television or computer—at bedtime.

  • Avoid drinking sodas or other caffeinated beverages within six hours of sleep.

  • Establish a bedtime routine.

  • Make the room “sleep ready” by selecting a comfortable room temperature, eliminating light, and making the bed comfortable.



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