Oh no, mono!

That Sounds Like The Flu

So, here comes Josh.  He's home from his basketball game and feeling more tired than usual.  He doesn't want to eat the huge post-game meal which he's been known to down in ten minutes or less and he's beginning to run a fever. 

By morning, Josh's face and neck look as though they are one piece, lymph nodes swollen and he's running a fever of 103.  His throat feels tight and constricted and very sore. 

These are all of the classic signs of mono and present themselves about two or three weeks after exposure in teens and adults.  Children exhibit these signs usually ten days after being exposed to the virus.

First It Gets Worse

The body's biggest lymph node, the spleen, can become enlarged and can produce abdominal pain.  Such is the case in about 50% of those infected with mono.

It is also possible that the liver may be enlarged as well.  Occasionally there is a red rash, similar to measles, accompanying all of this. 

A pretty sight, to be sure.  Sometimes the symptoms can become serious and require medical intervention.  This type of scenario, fortunately, doesn't happen very often.

And Then It Gets Better

A visit to the doctor will confirm mono and unless the symptoms worsen, bed rest, plenty of fluids and time along with some over-the-counter pain medication should be sufficient to deal with things until the person is feeling better. 

It may take some time though, so don't rush back into a busy physical schedule until there is clearance from the doctor.

Common symptoms

Infectious mononucleosis presents with symptoms of fever, sore throat, lethargy and swollen lymph glands.  Sometimes the spleen or liver may become enlarged as well.  The disease is diagnosed usually on the basis of the symptoms and the age of the person. 

Treatment is often safely administered at home and includes rest, hydration, pain management and a slow, monitored return to activities that require exertion.

Most frequently mono runs its course and life returns to normal.  However, mono has also been known to be more serious and to require intensive medical attention.  Should the symptoms move to another level, immediate medical intervention should be sought. 

Warning flags of complications

The following signs and symptoms are red warning flags of possible complications and require urgent evaluation.

Difficulty in breathing could indicate the closure of the throat and airways due to swelling of the lymph nodes. 

A severe sore throat accompanied by the inability to swallow may indicate strep or another type of infection. 

The inability to swallow can also lead to dehydration. 

Abdominal pain, present with the swelling of the spleen and/or liver, may become very intense which would indicate a possible bursting of the spleen - something which would require surgery. 

In extreme cases there can be neurological complications including such things as seizures, Bell's palsy, meningitis and nerve palsies. 

Extreme weaknesses in the limbs or discoloration of the skin are other symptoms which would indicate a more serious situation. 

The proper medical care is imperative in addressing these more serious symptoms of mononucleosis to bring them under control and effect healing.

Mono From Hell - a true story

While some people experience a light case of mono, others get a terrible case that takes a great deal of time to recover from.

Jan was one of these people. Her story might help others to see that they can get through their experience with mono - and to look for warning signs that they might not have considered previously.

When Jan first got mono, she experienced a terrible headache and a fever. It went on for days until she finally went to the doctor, thinking she had a sinus infection.

Her throat was also starting to hurt. The doctor, without much thought for her situation, put her on antibiotics for a sinus infection. These antibiotics created a huge rash, which she later learned was a penicillin-induced rash and was probably the first sign of the mono.

The Next Step

Then, although the headache went away, the sore throat got much, much worse. It was bad enough that this pain kept her up at night, but her tonsils were also swollen and she had white spots on them. S

he knew that this was a symptom of strep, but she thought it was quite strange, since she was on antibiotics. They sent her for a mono test, but the test took a few days to come back.

The Rash

The penicillin-induced rash started to cover Jan's entire body, spreading from her face down her body to her feet. It lasted for about 10 days and went away in the same order that it started!

It itched a great deal as well. To help with the rash she wore sick pajamas, turned inside out so that the seams wouldn't rub against her skin, she used ice packs on the rash, and she used lotion to make the skin less dry. Finally, she drank a lot of fluids.

The Mono

Once she was diagnosed with mono, finally, she was able to identify why she had this terrible rash, and to deal with her many symptoms.

She was in bed for a month! At the worst part, she barely had the energy to get up to go to the bathroom. Although she thought that she would never get better, with a lot of rest, fluids and relaxation, she eventually did conquer the mono and get back to feeling normal.

However, it took another two months after the initial one month of being sick to fully recover and feel like her usual self.


Jan's story shows how important it is to pay attention to your symptoms and to get tests done quickly. By taking penicillin, Jan's mono was made worse and she was forced to endure painful consequences.

If her mono had been identified earlier, the antibiotics could have been avoided, and possibly the rash could have as well. Asking questions of the doctor and trying to get the best care possible can save you time, and discomfort, along the way!

About Us  Contact Us  Privacy Policy  Terms of Use and Disclaimer