Infectious mononucleosis (mono) is colloquially referred to as “the kissing disease” because the virus behind it is transmitted through saliva. While saliva is exchanged when you plant a kiss on someone else, you can also be exposed to the virus via a sneeze or cough, as well as sharing utensils or a glass with someone infected with mono. You’ll be relieved to know, however, that mono isn’t quite as contagious as infections like the common cold.
Young adults and adolescents are the populations who are most likely to present all of the disease’s symptoms, and young children usually present with few signs of it; because of this, the infection will often go unrecognized. The virus’s incubation period is usually between four and six weeks, though it’s often shorter in young children. Mono’s symptoms could include:
- Skin rash
- Swollen tonsils
- A sore throat, which could be misdiagnosed as strep throat, but doesn’t resolve after a course of antibiotics
- Swollen lymph nodes in your armpits and neck
Another, more serious potential complication of mono is an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly). When your spleen is enlarged, it begins to filter both normal and abnormal blood cells. This reduces the number of healthy blood cells that are circulating in your bloodstream. The spleen also begins to hold on to too many platelets, which function to clot your blood. As excess platelets and red blood cells build up within your spleen, it could become clogged. If left untreated, splenomegaly could tamper with the normal function of your spleen and even damage or destroy parts of the spleen itself.
While a fever and sore throat associated with mono generally lessen within a couple of weeks, enlarged lymph nodes, fatigue, and a swollen spleen could continue for a few weeks or perhaps even longer.
Certain Ezra MRI scans may detect splenomegaly from mononucleosis or other conditions. If you’re interested in learning more, you may do so at the following link.