Mononucleosis: What Is It, Causes, Symptoms, And How To Prevent It?


Do you know the disease of the kiss or the lovers? This romantic name is popularly called infectious mononucleosis. A benign and self-solving disease in which a good state and integrity of the immune system of those affected is basic to overcome its effects without difficulty.

Its prevalence is very high, with about 95 percent of adults between 35 and 40 years of age increasing this disease and habitually contracting it in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood.

What Is It?

But what is infectious mononucleosis specifically? This pathology is caused by the so-called Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a herpes family virus, in 90 percent of cases, although other viruses are causing the disease. Thus, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Toxoplasma gondii can also cause this type of infection, although in a small number of cases. VEB mononucleosis is the most common and can infect a high percentage of the population, although some infected have barely any symptoms or lack them.

Although it can affect people regardless of age, it is rare in preschoolers and babies, with most infected people between the ages of 15 and 17. The infection is usually accompanied by fever, pharyngitis, lymphatic adenopathies, and atypical lymphocytosis. Although the reactivation of the disease once overcome is not frequent, cases have been reported in transplanted people.


The main cause of infectious mononucleosis is its transmission by oral secretions, i.e. through the exchange of saliva through close and direct personal contact that includes not only kisses but also cough, sneezing, or sharing drinks or meals. Contagion when kissing is often common among young adults and adolescents, while, in the case of younger children, contagion is often due to close contact they establish in parks, nurseries, and schools. It can also be transmitted by blood transfusion, although it is much less common.

This virus, that of Epstein-Barr, has the human being as the only natural reservoir and cannot survive in the environment given the fragility of its wrap, being fundamental for the bodily fluids to stay fresh and transmitted.


After about 10 or 15 days of incubation with little obvious symptoms, the disease can begin to give its first signals at 7 or 14 days. Although the whole process can begin with a slight general discomfort to go on to headaches, pain in the abdomen, and asthenia, there are also cases in which the symptoms appear abruptly with a sudden high fever. The general symptoms of infectious mononucleosis are:

  • A usually high fever.
  • Asthenia: muscle weakness accompanied by general discomfort and fatigue.
  • One of the most painful and annoying symptoms is the tumefaction of the cervical or occipital lymph nodes.
  • Faringoamigdalitis: an inflammation of the pharynx and the tonsils by infection.
  • Increase in the size of the spleen or splenomegaly. The nodes increase in size in the area of the English, armpits, or inner part of the elbow.
  • Hepatitis is another of the usual symptoms, being of a benign and anicoric nature. An increase in liver size or hepatomegaly can also be seen, although it usually appears in a small percentage of cases, about 10%.
  • Other typical symptoms are eyelid edema and rhinitis.

These symptoms usually last over two weeks, with some of them remaining even for three months. Along with these primary symptoms, complications can also occur ranging from meningitis to hemolytic anemia, pneumonia, jaundice, orchitis, or spleen break in the most serious cases.


One of the main preventive measures in preventing virus contagion is to maintain good hygiene, and it is essential to wash your hands often and not to share glasses, plates, cutlery, or any other utensil used by infected or who think they are. Specialists also recommend maintaining a therapeutic distance from those who suffer from pharingoamigdalitis.

Their diagnosis is usually carried out using a blood test to detect the presence of antibodies against the Epstein-Barr virus, in addition to checking alterations such as an increase in leukocytes and lymphocytes.


Treatment of infectious mononucleosis is often more directed to cope with symptoms as there is no specific pharmacological treatment against the virus. Thus, it is often common for, together with rest and plenty of fluid intake, painkillers, and antipyretics to be given to relieve fever, inflammation, and pain.

Antiseptics, anti-inflammatories, and anesthetics are also often used to relieve pain and discomfort in the Oropharyngeal area.

While most cases are usually cured without novelty, antiviral treatments such as ganciclovir, zidovudine, or acyclovir compounds, among others, are also used.