Mononucleosis Symptoms In Adults – Diagnosis And Symptoms

Infectious mononucleosis is a viral disease which is contagious in nature and is caused by Epstein-Barr virus. It is also known as kissing disease because it is transmitted through saliva. But kissing is not the only factor which causes this disease.

Sharing utensils such as glass or being exposed to cough and sneeze of a person who is already infected can result in infectious mononucleosis. Mononucleosis symptoms in adults are more pronounced as compare to those in children.

In children, symptoms usually go away after a few weeks of rest and plenty of fluids. The reason for this is that children have stronger immunity as compared to adults. In adults symptoms of mononucleosis can be divided into early symptoms and late or chronic symptoms.


Early signs of mononucleosis in adults and children are similar to flu in which a person complains of having sore throat, loss of appetite, weakness, and fever with chills, headache, muscle ache and severe fatigue. Temporary swelling of upper eyelids may also be present in the initial few days.


If the disease does not subside within few days then symptoms of chronic infection are seen. The most common of these is swollen lymph nodes present in armpit, neck or in groin. Tonsils also become swollen and red and in about one third of the cases the tonsils appear whitish.

Moreover skin rashes similar to those found in measles may also be present. Abdominal pain, especially in upper left side due to enlargement of spleen is an evident symptom of mononucleosis in adults. If the symptoms continue to present for more than six months, then the condition is known as chronic Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection.


The disease confirmed by monospot and heterophile antibody test to check for the presence of antibodies to Epstein-Barr virus. Complete blood count (CBC) shows an elevated number of lymphocytes. Mononucleosis is a self-limiting disease, much like other viral diseases and does not have any specific treatment.

An infected person may have the virus present in his saliva for 18 months after the initial infection. Treatment is largely symptomatic and includes acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever. Aspirin should be avoided as it leads to fatal complication (Reye syndrome) causing liver failure.

Sore throat which is at its peak in the first five days gets cured by the tenth day of infection. Rest and fluid intake is very important to help fight off the fatigue and weakness. If tonsils are swollen to such an extent that it may obscure breathing then cortisone is administered.

Lifting heavy objects and exercises should be avoided to prevent rupture of spleen which can lead to internal bleeding and sever shock. An emergency surgery may be required in such a case therefore; physical activity should be reduced to minimum for rapid recovery. 

Mononucleosis symptoms in adults and children can be prevented by avoiding sharing of drinking or eating utensils even with seemingly healthy individuals, covering mouth while sneezing and washing hands before eating.

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