Glandular fever, or infectious mononucleosis, is an infection carried through saliva. Symptoms include a fever, a sore throat, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes.
Glandular fever usually stems from an infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a highly contagious herpes virus.
Experts believe that
There is no cure for glandular fever, which usually passes without treatment. However, the fatigue can be long lasting.
In this article, we cover the symptoms, recovery times, and spreading risks of glandular fever.
When a person develops glandular fever, the symptoms usually appear
A person may experience:
- flu-like symptoms, including body aches and a headache
- a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
- a widespread rash that is not itchy
- nausea and a loss of appetite
- malaise, fatigue, tiredness, and weakness
- swelling and puffiness around the eyes
- a sore throat
- swelling of the lymph nodes
- pain in the upper abdomen due to a swollen spleen
- liver pain and jaundice
The soreness can be mild, but it is often severe and occurs with redness and swelling, similar to tonsilitis. Swallowing is often painful.
If what seems like severe tonsillitis lasts longer than usual, the person may have glandular fever.
The lymph nodes and spleen
As the immune system fights the virus, the lymph nodes swell. The swelling can occur in any lymph node, but those in the neck and armpits are usually the most prominent. They may be tender.
The spleen is part of the immune system and sits under the ribs on the left side of the abdomen.
The spleen may also swell as the body combats the virus, and the person may be able to feel it beneath their ribs. The swelling may cause mild pain in the upper left part of the abdomen.
In rare cases, EBV can cause mild inflammation of the liver, known as hepatitis. In rare cases, it can also cause acute liver failure. This is more common in
Symptoms of hepatitis include:
- jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes
- intolerance to alcohol
- a loss of appetite
Jaundice and hepatitis should disappear as the person recovers from glandular fever.
The symptoms tend to resolve within
Due to the physical impact of glandular fever, it is best for people to slowly build up their activity levels after infection. Due to the damage it can cause to the spleen, people should limit strenuous activity or physical sports for at least the first month after initial recovery.
Some people have EBV infections but no symptoms. This is
There is no cure for glandular fever; some people experience symptoms for
However, even without treatment, most people find that their symptoms go away within
A person can take the following steps to help the body heal:
A person with glandular fever often feels too tired and unwell to continue with their typical routine, but complete rest is key, especially in the first month after symptoms have appeared.
As the person recovers, light exercise may help them regain muscle strength.
Drink plenty of fluids
This will help prevent dehydration, especially if there is a fever.
A sore throat can make it hard to swallow, but it is important to consume enough fluids.
Pain relief medication
Pain relief medication, such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol), are available over-the-counter and online. They may help reduce fever symptoms.
Gargling with salt water or a solution from a pharmacy may help relieve a sore throat.
If the infection causes inflammation of the tonsils, a doctor
Most EBV infections occur during early childhood. When it happens, the immune system produces antibodies to fight the virus.
The virus remains in the body for life, lying dormant in the throat and blood cells. The antibodies provide lifelong immunity, and glandular fever rarely comes back a second time.
Sometimes, however, the virus
A person who contracts the infection as a teenager or young adult is more likely to develop glandular fever. It mainly appears in those ages
Other causes of glandular fever
Beyond the EBV, cytomegalovirus and rubella, sometimes called German measles, can also cause glandular fever.
Also, people may develop similar symptoms if they have toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection.
Cytomegalovirus, rubella, and toxoplasmosis can affect a fetus. If a pregnant person develops any of these infections, treatment with antibiotics and antibodies may be necessary.
A person who has an EBV infection can pass it on through bodily fluids, such as saliva. It is possible to spread the infection through coughing, sneezing, or sharing items such as utensils and cups, for example.
It is also possible to pass on glandular fever, or infectious mononucleosis, through kissing. It is sometimes called the “kissing disease.”
However, stringent testing of transfused blood and transplanted organs means that the risk of developing glandular fever through these ways is very low.
When the EBV
The virus remains in the body even after symptoms have gone, and it can reactivate at a later date.
How to stop glandular fever from spreading
Glandular fever spreads through bodily fluids. To stop EBV from spreading, a person should:
- wash hands regularly and thoroughly
- wash any clothes or surfaces they have been in contact with
- refrain from kissing others
- refrain from sharing cutlery and drinkware
The doctor will perform a physical examination to detect swollen lymph nodes and assess the tonsils, liver, and spleen.
If they suspect glandular fever, they also may order some tests. An
During pregnancy, tests can show whether rubella or toxoplasmosis are present. The EBV does not harm a fetus or an embryo.
Complications of glandular fever are rare, but they can be serious.
- damage to the spleen
- a secondary infection, such as pneumonia, meningitis, or one that causes heart inflammation
- a neurological condition, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome or Bell’s palsy
- upper airway obstruction
Secondary infections are rare, but there is a risk for patients with weakened immune systems.
Glandular fever is a viral infection that is common in young adults. The most common cause of glandular fever is the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
The medical term for glandular fever is infectious mononucleosis.
The condition can cause extreme tiredness, fever, and swelling of the lymph nodes. Glandular fever typically self-remedies within 2-4 weeks, but people may feel fatigued for up to 6 months after infection.
The EBV spreads through bodily fluids, commonly saliva. People can reduce the risk of spreading the virus by avoiding kissing others and regularly disinfecting their hands and surfaces they come into contact with.