Myths about Mono

Every virus or a sickness carries with it a certain myth or some misleading opinion that changes the way people think about their ailment:

If you have varicose veins, you must be old and a woman.

If you have Crohn's disease, you must be contagious.

If you have Cirrhosis, you must be an alcoholic.

The list could go on and on. Therefore, like every infection, or virus, disease, or disorder, Mononucleosis also has its own inventory of myths and false judgments.

Mono Myths Versus Facts

To help set you straight about mono, here are some widespread myths and some hard-core facts about the condition called mononucleosis.

Myth: it's a kissing disease

Fact: Mono is commonly referred to as 'the kissing disease' and often believed to be contracted through kissing. However, while kissing is one way to contract this condition, it is not the only way.

Mono can also be caught and spread through other types of close contact with saliva such as sharing a drink, a straw, a utensil or a toothbrush. And it can even be spread by holding or shaking hands.

Also sometimes, people may have the virus in their bodies and not know it and still be able to pass it to other people. And some may even get it from people who had the virus a few months ago. Thus, mono is not an illness spread only by kissing rather it is spread in a variety of ways.

Myth: mono last several months

Fact: Another judgment that people have about mono is that a person suffering from the virus will be sick for several months. But, this isn't true at all. While some may take several months to recover from mono, for others it may take only a few weeks.

Myth: it only affects teens

Fact: Usually, with mono, the older you are, the more severe and serious your symptoms are. So, as a toddler may have only a few mild symptoms, a teenager might be in a very serious condition with symptoms such as sore throat, fatigue, and high fever and may take many months to recover. More so than a toddler, which gives way to the other myth that mono is an infection that only affects teenagers.

This is a myth because although mono usually occurs in teenagers, it occurs in preschoolers and toddlers as well. Most of  the time, mono in younger children is harder to detect and they suffer from very mild symptoms from low fever to loss of appetite.

But even if they do not have severe symptoms, preschoolers and toddlers do suffer from it, making mono not only a 'teenager's disease' but an illness that affects all ages. By the age of 35 to 40 years, it is estimated that 95 percent of American adults have been exposed to the virus.

Myth: the only symptoms are weakness, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes

Fact: Mono may be accompanied by some of these symptoms, as well as by night sweats, swollen spleen, inflamed liver, skin rash, headaches, loss of aapetite and sore throat. However, mononucleosis can also occur without any apparent symptoms (especially in children), and even symptom-free individuals may still carry the virus in their saliva and transmit the disease to others.

Myth: mono is just a bad case of strep throat

Fact: Sore throat is one of the classic symptoms of mononucleosis, in addition to swollen tonsils. However the symptoms of strep throat are but a secondary infection that can occur when mono is present. While recovery from strep throat typically takes a few days, recovery from mono can take several weeks.

Myth: individuals with mono are contagious and should be confined at home

Fact: From an infection point of view, since mono is not transmitted through casual contact, there is no reason why infected individuals should not gradually return to their regular activities.

However, if sufferers are running a fever, are fatigued, or if their spleen or liver is swollen, they might choose to stay home and rest and should avoid injury to the abdominal area (i.e., refraining from sports and exercise).

Myth: one can never recover from mono

Fact: While it is true that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) which causes mono remains dormant in a person's body for the rest of their life, a person who has already been infected by the virus cannot be infected again.

On the other hand, EBV can become reactivated and thus even symptom-free individuals can transmit EBV to others (with the first evidence of mono symptoms typically appearing four to six weeks after exposure).

While recovery from mono can take weeks or months, fortunately, recovery eventually does occur.


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