Best known as the “kissing disease,” Mono infects over 3 million U.S. inhabitants every year. Characterized by a cluster of debilitating symptoms, infectious mononucleosis is contagious and, without care, spreads quickly – especially among teenagers, young adults, and college students. However, mono is not unpreventable! Developing a good understanding of mono, its common symptoms, and how to defend against the disease will raise awareness and protect more individuals this winter season.
What is Mono?
Mono is an extremely contagious disease, vicious in young communities. A variety of viruses can cause mono, but the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is most common. In fact, one in four young adults infected with EBV develops mono. If you were infected with EBV, you are contagious from the moment the virus begins shedding in your throat. Thus, mono spreads through saliva.
EBV is most often a silent infiltrator, sometimes living in a person’s symptom for a lifetime without showing symptoms. Because of this, the majority of Americans have been exposed to the silent virus by the time they reach middle age. According to WebMD, “EBV is part of the herpes virus family. Most people are exposed to it at some point in their lives. In the U.S., about 85% to 90% of adults carry the virus by the time they’re 40.”
As mentioned, however, mono is often expressed in young adults, with symptoms most severe during younger years. Once infected with EBV, an incubation period occurs. The virus spreads and multiplies in the body while the individual remain asymptomatic. Despite the lack of outward symptoms, the infected person is extremely contagious. If the virus activates or reactivates, the individuals becomes contagious and can become symptomatic once again.
What Are the Symptoms of Mono?
Though the EBV virus is a silent perpetrator, mono symptoms are evident and, at times, debilitating. Symptoms of the disease include:
- Increased exhaustion
- Extreme fatigue
- Heart issues: hearts can become inflamed, sometimes producing irregular heartbeats
- High fever (typically between 101-104 degrees)
- Sore throat, often resembles strep
- Intense headaches and body aches
- Swollen tonsils and lymph nodes: swollen tonsils can make it difficult to swallow or breathe
- Decreased appetite
- Pain in upper left side of abdomen caused by enlarged liver, spleen, or both; although this symptom is less common than those previously mentioned, it can be severe. If it becomes severe, your spleen can burst, causing sudden pain across your stomach. Of course, if this occurs, call emergency medical help. To avoid bursting an inflamed spleen, steer clear of rigorous physical activity while experiencing mono symptoms.
Interestingly, blood work also reveals telling signs of mono. For example, patients with mono may show an increase in regular and abnormal white blood cells, decreased platelets, and irregular liver function. Doctors can also perform antibody tests. Noticeable proteins form in an EBV patient’s immune system in response to the virus.
Relieving Symptoms of Mono
Staying hydrated, resting, and taking over-the-counter medications for fever and pain can help alleviate symptoms. In addition, vitamin C and ozone therapy are both antiviral and immune boosting and may provide relief. Certain healthcare providers may recommend targeted treatment for organs with infectious mononucleosis. Intense symptoms of mono often only last for two to four weeks, though fatigue may last longer in certain cases. Occasionally, symptoms last for up to and after six months.
As with any infectious disease, preventative action is the best medicine.
Tips on Defending Against Mono
Of course, the most obvious preventative measure is simple: don’t share saliva with an infected individual. However, when EBV is unpredictable and silent during incubation periods, this measure is not always possible. Below, we list a variety of helpful tips to prevent mono, when infection is evident and when it is discreetly hidden.
- Avoid close interaction with anyone infected. Mono can be spread by coughing or sneezing near another individual.
- Don’t kiss a person who is sick. Of course, if you are infected, refrain from kissing.
- Do not share items with saliva, including utensils, Chapstick, glasses, lipstick, straws, etc. of a person who is sick.
- If you have mono, do not donate blood.
- If you or someone you know has been knowingly exposed to EBV, immediately disinfect your hands and potentially infected surfaces. Do not touch your eyes, mouth, or nose for a few hours, if possible. EBV lives on infected surfaces for hours, as long as the object is moist.
- Stay healthy! Maintain the strength of your immune system. How? Regularly, sleep for a full night, eat healthy foods, and exercise on a consistent basis. On a semi-regular basis, take immune boosting vitamins and herbs or vitamin C IV’s.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- If you are infected, stay home, drink water, and rest until your symptoms subside.
- EBV can spread through semen during sexual activity; ask your doctor if a condom is necessary and how long.
Understand that an infected individual can still spread the disease up to three months after symptoms are relieved – some patients remain contagious for over a year.
Unfortunately, no specific treatment currently exists for EBV, besides staying hydrated, resting, and taking over-the-counter medications for fever, pain, and other related symptoms. Furthermore, a vaccine does not currently exist to prevent initial EBV infection.
The LaCava Center for Integrative Medicine
At LaCava Center, we are passionate about addressing the root of the issue – beginning with awareness and proactive prevention. Thankfully, here at the LaCava Center, we practice natural ways that boost your immune system and treat mono with an integrative approach. Utilizing alternative methods, we specialize in nutritive therapy, chelation therapy, and hyperbaric oxygen to treat a plethora of conditions. In addition to focusing on hydration and rest, treatments include: ozone therapy; high dose vitamin C IV therapy and vitamins; and herbal and homeopathic remedies. Our team of caring experts address Lyme disease, mold exposure, insulin potentiation, cancer, chronic fatigue, infectious diseases, and many more.
We want to help you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our team. We are unlike any other integrative medical practice, passionate about providing vanguard treatments to identify and disrupt the root causes of disease and sickness. We want to learn about you, your illness, and your future health.
Please contact us at (847) 695-6262 or via our online form!