Mononucleosis Glossary

The following is a glossary of words and terms related to mononucleosis:

Antibody: A special immune protein that has the ability to help the body fight off infection by combining with the same antigen that triggers its production. A diagnosis of mononucleosis is dependent upon a blood test which indicates whether Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antibodies are present

Chills: Sensations of coldness accompanied by shivering (and often a fever); a common symptom of mononucleosis

Complication: An additional or secondary problem which complicates an existing or preceding medical illness, treatment, or procedure. Although most people recover fully from mono, in severe cases of mono complications can arise

Enlarged Liver: A possible symptom of mononucleosis. Mono patients with an enlarged liver are encouraged to avoid physical exertion/exercise which could cause the liver to rupture

Enlarged Spleen: Another symptom of mononucleosis. To avoid rupturing of the spleen, individuals with a swollen spleen are encouraged to refrain from sports or any activities which could put pressure on or cause injury to the abdominal area

Fatigue: A feeling of weariness and tiredness leading to a lower capacity for work/decreased efficiency; a common symptom of mononucleosis

Fever: A body temperature above the normal 98.6 degrees F. (37 degrees C.); a common symptom of mononucleosis

Immune System: The body's protective system which works to fight off foreign substances, viruses, and infections. Individuals with mononucleosis are said to have a compromised immune system, which explains why they typically feel exhausted and weak

Infection: The growth of a parasitic organism within the body, which "eats away" at a person, drawing its sustenance from the infected individual

Infectious Mononucleosis: A viral infection spread via saliva and caused by the Epstein-Barr virus wherein there is an increase of white blood cells that are mononuclear (have a single nucleus); popularly known as "mono" and the "kissing disease."

Lymph Node: Small collections or masses of lymphatic tissue which are a key element of the body's immune system. Lymph nodes trap bacteria and cancer cells that travel through the lymphatic fluid, giving rise to swelling; swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits are common symptoms of mononucleosis

Lymphocytes: A small white blood cell that helps defend the body against disease. In early stages of mono, blood tests indicate an increase in lymphocytes (although specific blood tests are required for a mono diagnosis)

Saliva: Watery secretion produced by the salivary glands in the mouth; aids in the digestion of food; mononucleosis is spread via saliva

Sore throat/Strep throat: In the case of mono, pain and inflammation of the throat and/or tonsils are common symptoms

Viral Infection: Infection caused by the presence of a virus in the human body which cannot be treated with antibiotics, rather is fought off by the body's immune system over time (along with the aid of rest and proper nutrition/hydration); in the case of mono, the use of antibiotics often makes the infection worse.

Virus: A microorganism which invades living cells and "eats off of them" to keep itself alive and to replicate.

White Blood Cells: Body cells called leukocytes which help fight infection. In the early stages of mono, blood tests reveal a higher ratio of a specific type of white blood cell - lymphocytes.


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