Need Mono Testing? CT Urgent Care Centers Does That!
Infectious mononucleosis is common viral infection that’s usually simply called “mono.” Because it can be present and even infectious without any outward symptoms, it’s far more widespread than one might think. It’s particularly common among children, who typically weather the infection with minimal effects. However, the virus can hit adults much harder, and recuperating can take many days.
What Causes Mono?
The virus responsible for mono is called “Epstein-Barr.” Direct contact with the saliva of an infected individual is the most common method of infection. This is what lends mono its well-known “kissing disease” nickname. Coughing, sneezing, and sharing eating utensils are also excellent ways to spread the Epstein-Barr virus. In patients that show symptoms, the most infectious period is generally in between the onset of the symptoms and the end of the fever that typically accompanies them.
Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus usually occurs long before symptoms appear. A typical dormant period between infection and symptoms can be roughly a month. The normal initial symptoms of mono include:
- muscle soreness
- slight fever
Fatigue is far and away the symptom that most sufferers notice first. It’s not at all uncommon to sleep twelve hours or more every day when dealing with mono. Within a few days, new symptoms appear. Some or all of these may show up:
- swollen lymph nodes (in the neck)
- swollen tonsils, with a white or yellow coating
- throat soreness
Less frequent, but still common, symptoms of mono can include the following:
- soreness of joints
- loss of appetite
- red skin rashes, usually on the chest and sometimes the mouth
At Connecticut Urgent Care Centers, we know that prompt examination by a trained clinician is the best way to diagnose mono properly. If your symptoms suggest the presence of the Epstein-Barr virus, we’ll perform a full examination and review your symptoms with you thoroughly. We can perform a fast test to confirm the presence of the virus that delivers results quickly.
As a viral infection, mono does not respond to antibiotic medications, and there are no drugs available that specifically target the virus responsible for the condition. In most cases, patients will have to let the virus run its course. The only common complication presented by mono comes from the inflammation of the tonsils shown in the symptom list above. Extreme increases in the size of your tonsils may make breathing difficult. In this situation consult your healthcare provider immediately; steroids and/or inhalants can be prescribed to mitigate the swelling and keep your air passages clear. Like many powerful drugs, steroids require careful use according to the directions of the doctor who prescribes them. It’s your responsibility to use the drugs as directed, and limit your use only to the treatment period laid out by your doctor.
How Long Does A Mono Infection Last?
When the full symptoms of mono appear, they typically run their course within a week or two. For many patients, it can take much longer to get over the fatigue brought on by the virus, and some people don’t return to their healthy energy levels for months. Reduced stress levels and minimal activity are strongly recommended during this period of recuperation.
In a small number of mono cases, the infection can cause abscesses to appear on the tonsils. This condition causes a great deal of pain, and it can make it difficult or impossible to eat. Antibiotics are used to minimize the symptoms, and in extreme cases a doctor may perform surgery to drain the abscesses. One internal effect of mono infection is inflammation of the liver and spleen. On very rare occasions, this can result in the spleen rupturing. Outside trauma can bring this on when you’re suffering from mono. Taking a body blow, for example, can cause severe damage to mono patients. If you’re dealing with mono, make sure you review your overall physical activities with your doctor, and get advice on exercising or playing sports safely while you’re recovering from the virus. The typical symptoms of a ruptured spleen are lightheadedness and severe abdominal pain. If you know you have mono and you experience these symptoms, consult your doctor or another healthcare provider immediately. While the overall recovery process can take weeks or months with mono, the period of greatest infectiousness generally passes once your fever breaks. This typically only takes a few days. After you’ve recovered entirely from mono, traces of the Epstein-Barr virus will remain in your system. Recurrent infection is technically possible, but extremely rare.
Caring For Yourself With Mono
First and most importantly, heed all instruction and advice that your healthcare providers at Connecticut Urgent Care Centers give you. Then you’ll want to Rest: Fighting off the fatigue caused by mono is a challenge. Ibuprofen is useful for dealing with the fever, muscle pains, and sore throat mono causes. Ibuprofen should not be taken for continuous periods longer than ten days. If you’re dosing yourself or your children, be extremely cautious with pain relievers that use aspirin or other salicylates. (e.g. Pepto-Bismol, cold remedies, etc.) Ask your doctor before using these Hydrate: Getting enough fluid is extremely important. Because mono causes inflammation of the liver, you must stay away from alcoholic beverages while you’re dealing with the virus. Reduce Physical Activity: As described above, mono puts you at increased risk for rupturing your spleen. While you’re recovering, avoid strenuous activities that might require quick movements, hard contact, or heavy weight lifting. A ruptured spleen is a critical problem; it usually involves internal bleeding and will require emergency medical care. Ask your doctor how long you need to stay away from intense physical activity. Symptoms requiring immediate attention – call 911 if:
- You’re having trouble breathing.
- You can’t swallow properly, or you can’t stop drooling.
- You experience intense, sharp stomach pain.
Come to Connecticut Urgent Care Centers and speak with your provider if:
- Your fever rises over 101.5 Fahrenheit
- Your condition hasn’t improved over the course of 2-3 weeks.
- You’re experiencing extreme muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, or chills.
- You’re seeing a bluish tinge on your fingernails or skin.
Preventing the Spread Of Mono
In order to limit the impact of mono, you should take steps to minimize the risk of spreading the virus when you know you’re infected. Prevent other people from exposure to your saliva. This means abstaining from kissing and sharing food, and using a non-shared set of utensils, plates, cups, and containers until the infection has passed.