What is it Mononucleosis? Or Kissing Disease?
Mononucleosis is a disease caused by a virus of the herpes family. Also known as kissing disease, it causes fever, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes, a sign that often occurs in the neck.
This pathology is related to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and sometimes reduced can be caused by others such as cytomegalovirus (CMV).
Mononucleosis is a disease that affects school children, adolescents and young adults to a greater extent. It is less frequent in preschool children (in most cases, if they are infected they lack visible symptoms) and it is very unusual to occur in the first year of life. The period of greatest frequency in which these cases occur is between 15 and 17 years of age.
Causes and how long does mono last
Mononucleosis or kissing disease is caused by a virus of the herpes. which is distributed throughout the world. It is transmitted mainly by oral secretions (saliva) through kissing or saliva exchange, that is, with close personal contact, given its low contagiousness.
The virus is eliminated up to 18 months after the primary infection, then it is eliminated intermittently throughout life (in the absence of clinical disease). Less often, it can be spread by blood transfusion.
The disease has an incubation period of between 10 and 15 days during which no symptoms are noted. When the disease begins to manifest, from 7 to 14 days there is general malaise, headache, asthenia, myalgia or abdominal pain, although sometimes the onset is sudden or acute and the patient suddenly presents with high fever. In general terms the symptoms are:
- Fever: usually elevated.
- Asthenia: Muscle weakness, often with general malaise and fatigue.
- Swelling of the cervical or occipital lymph nodes. It is very painful.
- Faringoamigdalitis: Inflammation of the inner lining of the pharynx and tonsils, usually by infection.
- Splenomegaly (enlargement of the spleen). In many cases, the enlargement of the lymph nodes, armpits, or in the epitrochlea (bony prominence that is located in the inner part of the elbow).
- The hepatitis is so prevalent (no alteration in liver function tests in 80 percent of cases), which is considered another feature of the clinical picture. It is anicteric (there is no yellow color on skin and mucous membranes) and benign. The increase in liver size or hepatomegaly is present in approximately 10 percent of cases.
- Other symptoms that may appear are rhinitis or eyelid edema.
A rash is very common in these patients if medications such as amoxicillin are given. The symptoms of the disease can last up to two or four weeks. The fever usually goes down in two weeks, but on rare occasions, it can last longer. The asthenia persists in some cases several weeks and the splenomegaly can be maintained up to three months.
Rarely complications occur but, among the possible, include the following:
- Neurological: meningitis, paralysis of the cranial nerves or encephalitis.
- Hematologic: hemolytic anemia or thrombocytopenia (decrease in platelets).
- Respiratory: pneumonia.
- Spleen rupture: it is a serious complication produced by an excess of swelling but infrequent.
- Hepatic (jaundice), renal and genital (orchitis).
In terms of prevention, the measures that can be taken are very scarce and mainly affect good hygiene; Above all, it is important to wash your hands frequently.
In addition, it is essential to avoid contact with containers or utensils (such as glasses, forks or knives) that have been used by infected persons.
The diagnosis of mononucleosis is made by the clinical picture and by alterations in the blood, caused by an increase in leukocytes (white blood cells), with lymphocytosis (increased lymphocytes) and the predominance of atypical lymphocytes being common.
There is also a moderate elevation of transaminases in 50 percent of patients.
Serological studies are also used (blood tests to detect the presence of antibodies against the virus responsible) that demonstrate the presence of heterophile antibodies, as well as the study of antibodies specific for the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
These studies help to differentiate this disease from others that may have similar symptoms, caused by other agents such as cytomegalovirus, hepatitis virus, AIDS virus, and so on.
Mononucleosis requires a treatment that is aimed at treating the symptoms rather than the disease itself. It is usually recommended much rest and sleep, so that the fever can subside as quickly as possible and the lymph nodes are relieved. Additionally, medications can be prescribed to reduce fever in which case it is very high, as long as it is under medical prescription.
In some patients, the least, complications can appear that result in additional infections that develop because of some bacteria. In general, in these cases, the use of antibiotics is recommended. In this case, we must bear in mind that some antibiotics, such as ampicillin, can cause a hypersensitivity reaction in the skin , appearing pink spots all over the body, but it is a benign reaction that does not cause more complications.