Myth vs. Fact

Myth: I can only get Mononucleosis by kissing, and I am not dating or kissing anyone right now.

You can catch Mononucleosis by kissing, but also by sipping from the same straw, drinking from the same glass or bottle, as well as being in close contact with someone when they cough or sneeze, as Mononucleosis is spread by saliva and mucus.

Myth: If my friends, boyfriends and/or girlfriends get Mononucleosis, I’ll just wait for them to get better before I come in contact with them.

Individuals can be contagious and not have any symptoms themselves. The virus that causes Mononucleosis has a long incubation period: 30 to 50 days from the time you are exposed to the time you are sick. You can actually have contact with someone who is not sick, or doesn’t appear sick, but who has the virus in their system and not get sick yourself right away.

Myth: This sounds like it is caused by the same germs that cause the common cold.

Actually, the two viruses that cause Mononucleosis are the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV). These viruses are in the herpes family. Families of these viruses cause cold sores and chickenpox.

Myth: This is just a high school teenager disease.

Epstein-Barr virus infects about half of all children before the age of 5 years old. It is believed that due to their immune system, no symptoms occur at that young age. But if you don’t become infected with EBV until you’re older, such as a teen or older, you are more likely to develop mono symptoms. Once infected, the virus stays with you for life. Every now and then you may produce viral particles in your saliva or mucus that can transmit the virus to other people, but have no symptoms yourself and be immune to further EBV infections. About 85% to 90% of Americans have EBV antibodies indicating they have been exposed to this virus and are immune. CMV is also a very common virus. Again about 85% of the U.S. population is infected with this virus by adulthood.

Myth: If I am going to get it anyway, I just won’t worry.

While Mononucleosis is usually not considered a serious illness, it can have serious complications and even death due to these complications. The population generally affected is teens to twenties, especially in high school, college, and the military.

A common symptom is fever as high as 103 degrees. Its nickname
glandular fever, describes the most identifying mono symptom of enlarged glands or lymph nodes, especially in the neck, but also the armpits and groin.

Adding other symptoms of tired achiness, loss of appetite, tonsillitis, and white patches on the back of the throat, these symptoms are very similar to other illnesses. Cases have been documented that the tonsils are so swollen that they actually touch each other in the back of the throat causing pain, difficulty swallowing, and in some cases difficulty breathing. Photophobia, or light sensitivity has also been documented as common. And in about half of the cases, two to three weeks after an individual becomes sick, enlargement of the spleen develop. This can be serious because the spleen can rupture if not protected. Physicians often order special tests to find out if Mononucleosis is the correct diagnosis.

Myth: It can’t be as bad as it seems.

There are many facts that make this a disease one you do not want. It can take up to three months or more to get better after having this Mononucleosis. Beside the illness itself, depression and loneliness is commonly experienced due to the age group and amount of time needed to recover. Many school activities will be missed including sports activities, school functions like prom, club events, and parties with friends. Due to the label of “kissing disease” most people avoid those with Mononucleosis. Recuperating can feel like it is taking forever.

Myth: So I stay home if I feel bad.

Diagnosis is very important! If you have a sore throat, see your physician so a throat culture and or blood tests can be done to diagnosis what you have.

Your physician will suggest bed rest for uncomplicated mono, drinking plenty of fluids, and treat your fever. Your ability for certain activities will change both during the disease and for a time following until your body recovers, you feel more energetic and your physician feels you are able to resume your daily activities.

Remember to not drink after others, use lip glosses or chap lip relievers. Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing and stay away from those that don’t.

It is important to remember to not push your body. You will be tired, so rest!

It is very important to remember to go to the emergency room or call 911 if any difficulty breathing occurs.

Source: U.S Food and Drug Administration