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Infectious mononucleosis: symptoms and treatment in children and adults

Infectious mononucleosis is common in children and adolescents. In rare cases, this pathology worries adults. The disease occurs with characteristic symptoms of angina, lymphadenopathy and enlargement of the liver and spleen.

With normal immunity, after a month or a little more, the symptoms of the disease completely disappear and the patient returns to his usual life.

What it is?

Infectious mononucleosis is a viral infectious disease, accompanied by damage to the lymph nodes, mouth and pharynx, increased sizes of the liver and spleen, as well as characteristic changes in the hemogram (blood analysis).

Infectious mononucleosis

The causative agent of the disease is a virus from the family of herpes viruses (one of the forms of infection of the Epstein-Barr virus), which settles in other cells and causes their active reproduction.

The virus is practically unviable in the external environment and quickly dies under the influence of high and low temperatures, sun rays or antiseptics.

  • The source of infection is a person in the middle of illness or at the stage of recovery. There is a hidden carrier of the virus.

The disease is transmitted mainly by airborne droplets. The virus actively accumulates in saliva, so a contact path of transmission is possible at kisses, through objects of personal use, during sexual intercourse. There have been cases of transmission of infection during labor and blood transfusion.

People's susceptibility to the virus is very high, but thanks to immune protection, the severity of the disease predominates. In the presence of immunodeficiencies, generalization of the infection and the development of severe consequences are observed.


Infectious mononucleosis in children

Infectious mononucleosis in children

The disease is mainly found in children - usually they become ill teenagers aged 12-15 years. Less often the infection affects children of younger age.

Infectious mononucleosis in adults is practically not found, except for those suffering from severe immunodeficiency, for example, with HIV infection or after taking cytotoxic drugs.

Outbreaks of infection increase in the autumn-winter period. Contribute to the spread of the virus close household contacts, the use of common toys, utensils, hygiene items.

Symptoms of infectious mononucleosis

Symptoms of infectious mononucleosis The incubation period of infectious mononucleosis (the time from the moment of getting the virus to the appearance of the first signs of the disease) is from several days to one and a half months. The first symptoms of infectious mononucleosis in children develop gradually: weakness, subfebrile temperature, nasal congestion and discomfort in the mouth.

In the acute period of the disease the symptoms are aggravated:

  1. Raise the temperature to febrile values.
  2. Sore throat, which is worse when eating and swallowing saliva. Because of this symptom, the disease is often confused with sore throat.
  3. Severe headaches.
  4. Signs of body intoxication: aches in muscles and joints, weakness, loss of appetite.
  5. Enlargement of lymph nodes. The patient can detect enlarged lymph nodes in almost all areas available for inspection. Most often it is noticeable on the submaxillary, cervical and occipital lymph nodes.
  6. Increase in the size of the liver and spleen. In this case, the patient can develop icteric syndrome: dark urine, yellow eyes sclera, rarely there is a rash all over the body, associated with a violation of the liver.

The acute period lasts for several weeks. The temperature can rise for another month, after which the recovery period begins. The patient's state of health gradually improves, the lymph nodes return to normal sizes, and the temperature curve stabilizes.

Important! A feature of the course of infectious mononucleosis in adults is the predominance of symptoms associated with liver damage (jaundice, dyspeptic disorders, etc.). Dimensions of the lymph nodes increase little as opposed to children.

The clinical signs of infectious mononucleosis are quite simply confused with angina, diphtheria, lymphogranulomatosis and some other diseases. The most typical sign is a specific change in blood composition. With this disease, atypical mononuclears and an increase in the number of leukocytes and monocytes are found in the blood.

These atypical cells appear immediately or at the 2-3 week of the disease. During recovery, a small amount of them can also be found in the blood.

Important! Adults with infectious mononucleosis are often recommended to perform additional tests for HIV infection, because similar changes in blood and symptoms are observed in the stage of initial manifestations of HIV infection.

Treatment of infectious mononucleosis, drugs

Treatment of infectious mononucleosis in children takes place at home, however, as in adults (with some exceptions). Patients with severe liver disorders may be hospitalized.

Specific therapy from this virus is not developed, so parents are very worried about the topic, than treating infectious mononucleosis in children. For the therapy, various groups of drugs are used, aimed at eliminating the main symptoms of the disease:

  1. Local rinses with solutions of antiseptics and decoctions of medicinal herbs.
  2. Antihistamines.
  3. Antipyretic and anti-inflammatory (Ibuprofen). использовать аспирин для сбивания температуры из-за риска развития синдрома Рея. Children are not recommended to use aspirin to knock down the temperature because of the risk of developing Ray's syndrome.
  4. Hepatoprotectors.
  5. Antibiotic therapy is indicated only in case of secondary infection.
  6. In severe swelling of the pharynx and tonsils, short courses of glucocorticosteroids are used.

Physical activity should be limited for the entire period of the disease (1-2 months) - there is a risk of rupture of the spleen.

In parallel, the patient is prescribed a gentle chemical and thermal diet, rich in vitamins and microelements. Exclude fatty, fried and smoked dishes, so as not to overload the liver.

How long to treat infectious mononucleosis?

Acute manifestations of the disease last for several weeks, during this period the patient receives symptomatic and anti-inflammatory drugs.

In addition, detoxification therapy is carried out, immunomodulators may be used. At the stage of reconvalescence, the patient continues to adhere to the diet, restricts physical activity and, if necessary, undergoes local treatment of the pharynx.

Complete recovery occurs only after a month and a half. The infectious disease doctor treats such patients.


In most patients, the prognosis is favorable. The disease proceeds in a mild and worn form and can be easily treated with symptomatic treatment.
Problems occur in patients with low immunity, in which the virus begins to multiply actively, which leads to the spread of infection.

Preventive measures against infectious mononucleosis do not exist, except for the general strengthening of the body's immune system through balanced nutrition, hardening and physical activity. In addition, you should avoid places where people are crowded, ventilate the premises and isolate such patients, especially children.


The most common complications of the disease is the attachment of a secondary bacterial infection. Patients with weakened immunity against infectious mononucleosis may develop bronchitis, pneumonia and inflammation of other organs.

Non-observance of bed rest can cause a rupture of the spleen. In rare cases, severe hepatitis and bleeding develop due to violations of the blood coagulation system (the platelet content falls sharply).

Such complications are more typical for patients with weakened immune system and severe concomitant diseases. In most cases, the symptoms disappear without a trace, but the virus remains in the body after treatment of infectious mononucleosis throughout life, and can again manifest itself with a decrease in immunity.


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