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Complications of Mono: Chronic Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis, which is sometimes referred to as the "kissing disease", is an infectious disease that can negatively affect the health of individuals. Most common in adolescents and young adults, symptoms of mono, such as fatigue and loss of appetite, can also compromise an individualís quality of life. However, while mononucleosis is usually a dormant disease that does not pose serious health consequences, in rare cases, mononucleosis can lead to a serious condition known as chronic mononucleosis, which is sometimes referred to as recurrent mononucleosis. But what exactly is chronic mononucleosis and how common is it?

What is Chronic Mononucleosis?

Chronic mono is a condition characterized by a serious illness that occurs for a period of time greater than six months from the time when infectious mononucleosis is initially diagnosed. Mononucleosis symptoms include fever, swelling of the lymph nodes, exhaustion and a lingering sore throat.

Sometimes referred to as chronic active EBV infection, recurrent mono is extremely rare. In fact, in the United States alone, up to 95% of adults are exposed to the Epstein-Barr Virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the majority of these individuals do not exhibit any symptoms, meaning that the disease is latent or dormant in these individuals.

Only very infrequently does infectious mononucleosis develop into chronic mononucleosis.

Diagnosis of Chronic Mono

The main ways in which recurrent mononucleosis is diagnosed is by performing either a blood test or a tissue biopsy.

Either of these diagnostic tools may be used to test for the chronic active EBV infection by testing for high levels of the Epstein-Barr Virus.

Treatment

Generally, treatment for infectious mononucleosis involves bed rest and a high fluid intake.

In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed in cases when bacterial infections accompany mono, such as a strep throat. Antibiotics are usually not prescribed to treat mono because they are not very effective in the treatment of viral infections such as mononucleosis.

If swelling of the throat and tonsils persists or is particularly bothersome, a physician may prescribe a corticosteroid medication, such as prednisone.

Other Complications of Mononucleosis

Some other complications associated with mononucleosis include jaundice, hepatitis, as well as spleen inflammation, which can lead to pain or rupturing.

Less common complications of infectious mononucleosis include anemia and the inflammation of the heart.



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