Infectious mononucleosis, often called “mono,” is a flu-like illness that is common in teens and young adults. The board-certified, fellowship-trained pediatric infectious disease specialists with Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases have the experience and skills to treat mono in children.
What Is Mono?
Mono is viral illness that is very contagious and spreads through saliva. The most common cause of mono is the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Other viruses, including cytomegalovirus, can cause mono.
How Do You Get Mono?
Mono often is spread through contact with infected saliva by kissing, coughing, sneezing or sharing drinking glasses or food utensils. Most kids are exposed to EBV at some point in their childhoods and may experience mild symptoms or none at all. Children exposed to EBV have a 50% chance of developing symptoms of mono.
Symptoms of Mono in Kids
Children usually show signs of mono one to two months after exposure. Symptoms of infectious mononucleosis can vary, but common symptoms include:
- Extreme fatigue (feeling very tired)
- Headache and body aches
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits and groin
- Swollen spleen or liver
Less common symptoms can include puffy eyes, nausea, sensitivity to light, chest pain and trouble breathing. Younger children may have milder symptoms, such as slight fever, feeling tired and poor appetite.
Symptoms of mono in kids can last for about two to four weeks, but the fatigue may last for weeks after symptoms end.
There is no cure for mono. Antibiotics do not treat the condition and will not help a child unless they are experiencing another infection caused by bacteria. Mono symptoms can go away on their own after a few weeks. Bed rest, drinking fluids and eating healthfully can help a child with mono. Other treatments can include:
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help with body aches or fever. Do not give aspirin, as it may lead to Reye’s syndrome, a serious illness.
- Steroid medicines to help with enlarged tonsils or lymph nodes causing breathing difficulty.
- Rest from sports, heavy lifting or rough play until the child’s health care provider clears them for activity.