Mononucleosis, sometimes referred to a "mono," is an acute infectious, viral disease usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus or cytomegalovirus, both of which belong to the herpes group. Mono is often also referred to as "sleeping sickness," or "kissing sickness," since it is very contagious and may be transmitted by kissing, and its primary symptom is severe tiredness. It affects the lymph tissue, the respiratory system, and sometimes other organs such as the liver, spleen, and, rarely, the heart and kidneys.

Symptoms of mono occur four to seven weeks after exposure and include severe fatigue, headache, alternating chills and a high fever, sore throat, and enlarged lymph nodes, especially in the neck. Symptoms can vary and be confusing because the mono viruses can affect different organs such as the spleen, liver, eyelids, and sometimes the heart. Ten percent of people with mono also develop rashes and/or darkened bruises in the mouth.

Mono typically occurs between the ages of 14 -18, and only in people who have never before had antibodies to the viruses that cause it.

Note: Mono`s symptoms are very similar to the flu, which must be ruled out. Almost all cases improve without medication within four to six weeks. Though antibiotics are often prescribed for mono, in actuality they are of little use unless there is an associated bacterial infection. In addition, the antibiotic ampicillin will often make mono worse and should be avoided. Also, avoid aspirin as it can create further complications in rare cases.

Proper treatment in the early stages of mono must emphasize appropriate bed rest. If there is enlargement of the spleen or liver, the rest may need to be prolonged and strenuous exercise must be avoided until these organs return to normal size.

Many mono patients suffer from ongoing fatigue, depression, and varied symptoms for months to follow, but those on natural treatments seem to avoid this pitfall or recover from these recurrences more quickly.


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