A Closer Look at Mono's Symptoms

Is It Mono?

Mononucleosis, the viral infection which is a result of exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), has several symptoms which are common to many infectious viruses. Sore throat, weakness, fatigue, lack of appetite and headache are common to the flu as well as mono. If, however, the symptoms you have are of consistent severity for a few weeks, it is likely you have mono and should see your doctor.

Fatigue, Weakness and Possibly More

One symptom which is consistent with mono is fatigue. Fatigue is a feeling of being very tired and lacking in energy. It is physical, but a person can also have mental fatigue with mono. Anything requiring energy, even thoughts, seems to exhaust you. An accompanying symptom with fatigue is weakness. If these feelings continue for an extended period of time, it could indicate complications of mono, such as anemia or Guillain-Barre syndrome. Guillain-Barre syndrome is a dangerous syndrome which can result from extreme cases of mononucleosis. It is an inflammatory disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves, causing weakness, numbness and eventually paralysis. The illness moves quickly through the body and also presents symptoms of difficulty in breathing as well as weakness. If such weakness is present and moving through the body, emergency treatment is recommended.

Is This a Sore Throat or Do I Have Step?

A sore throat is also a sign of mono. Often in teens, mononucleosis can cause a very severe sore throat that looks like, and has symptoms similar to, those of strep throat. If you have a sore throat that persists for longer than three days, a visit to the doctor may confirm mono. A swab test will indicate whether it is strep. Strep is a bacteria and mono is a virus. If you have mono, antibiotics will do nothing for the symptoms of the sore throat because they don't work on viruses. If you have strep throat, then a course of antibiotics will usually take care of it.  It could also be tonsillitis, which only your doctor can diagnose.

Fever and Swollen Glands

A fever is common to many infections, whether they are viral or bacterial. When a fever is accompanied by swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits, it can be a symptom of mono - or it can simply mean you have a fever. Fever should always be monitored and if it is stubborn and will not break on its own or with fever reducing medications, then call your health care provider.

A Real, Serious Pain

If you have a headache that just won't go away, lasting for days - either steady or ebbing and flowing - it could be a sign of mononucleosis. If the headache is coupled with a lack of appetite or the inability to eat normally, then it should be monitored. All of these symptoms could indicate mono, especially if they last for a period of several days. Sometimes, of course, they are the result of a cold or the flu. However, if it is either a cold or flu, they usually improve or go away within a few days. Should they last for a longer period of time, consult your physician, you may have mono.


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