Common and Extreme Symptoms of Mono

Not everyone who becomes infected with the Epstein-Barr virus, the virus that causes mononucleosis, ends up with symptoms. As a rule, young children do not have symptoms more severe than a fever when they contract the virus. However, teens and young adults are more likely to exhibit symptoms that are obviously linked to mono.

The More Common Symptoms

The most common signs of mononucleosis are fever of 101 to 104, complete with chills, a sore throat, white patches in the throat which may look a lot like strep throat, and swelling of the tonsils. Of course, that looks like tonsillitis. Headache, body aches and pains are also common symptoms. Add a lack of energy and fatigue and you've got a pretty good picture of mono - and a few other viral infections. With mono, these symptoms usually improve and disappear within a month or two.

Swollen Glands - Enlarged Spleen

Another very common symptom associated with mono is swollen lymph nodes. When a doctor suspects mono, he will often check the patient's abdomen, in the upper left region, for swelling of the spleen. In nearly half the cases of mono treated, an enlarged spleen is present. The spleen is the largest lymphatic organ in the body. It filters blood, is a major reservoir for blood and it destroys blood cells that are aged. The spleen produces lymphocytes, small white blood cells, which play a huge part in defending the body against diseases.

The Danger of An Enlarged Spleen

When a person has mono, the spleen may enlarge to two or three times its normal size and is at great risk for being ruptured if there is a blow to the abdomen. A ruptured spleen is potentially deadly and it requires immediate medical and surgical attention. When a spleen is ruptured, it permits large quantities of blood to leak into the abdominal cavity, a process that is not only very painful, but life-threatening. Shock and ultimately, death may be the result. That is why physical activity should be suspended if you have mono, until such time as the doctor believes it is safe for you to resume your normal physical lifestyle.

The Lymphatic System is Affected

There are other lymph glands on the body, called nodes, which are small bean-shaped masses of lymphatic tissue. They are located in the lymphatic system of the body and groups of them appear in the neck, around the collarbone, in the armpits and groin. They filter the lymphatic fluid and store special cells that can trap cancer cells or bacteria as they travel through the body. When the lymph nodes swell, it is an indication of inflammation in the body. When a person has mono, the lymph nodes swell considerably, giving someone the appearance of a bull neck, since the swelling can thicken the neck.

As with all other symptoms of mononucleosis, swollen glands eventually clear up and shrink back to their normal size. But, between the time they swell and the time they go down, a stiff neck could be part of the experience.


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