What is mononucleosis?

This viral infection called mononucleosis, also known as “kissing disease” or  glandular fever  , mainly affects children and adolescents and usually leaves lifelong immunity.

Mononucleosis: transmission and incubation period

Mononucleosis, a predominantly benign disease, is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which is transmitted by droplet infection or saliva (kissing, coughing).

After infection with the virus, mononucleosis usually breaks out after an incubation period of 5 to 7 days. However, in some cases of mononucleosis, the incubation period can be as long as 7 weeks.

Symptoms of glandular fever

The disease was given the name glandular fever by the German internist Emil Pfeiffer (1846 – 1921) because of the typical symptoms such as  fever  and swelling of the lymph nodes.

Lymph node swelling in the neck area is often observed in glandular fever, but in principle this can occur anywhere on the body. Other possible symptoms of mononucleosis are enlarged liver and spleen and  tonsillitis .

Duration, course and treatment of mononucleosis

The severity of the manifestation and the duration of the disease vary from person to person. Normally, glandular fever runs its course without complications and permanent damage.

Bed rest is strongly recommended for patients. If the spleen is enlarged, physical exertion can lead to a rupture of the spleen.

Since mononucleosis is a viral disease, it is not treated with  antibiotics  . Extreme caution is even required here: After ingestion, dangerous complications can occur. The treatment of mononucleosis is therefore usually limited to antipyretic measures.


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