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Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis, also known as “mono,” is caused by a germ called the Epstein-Barr virus. Though best known for causing swollen glands and fatigue, mononucleosis can take many forms. Most children with mono recover without any problems. But the illness can take a long time to go away. In some cases, mono can cause problems with the liver, spleen, or heart. So it is important that mono be diagnosed and the child watched carefully.

Symptoms of MononucleosisMother's hand on sleeping girl's head.

In children, the most common symptoms include:

  • Tiredness, weakness

  • Fever

  • Sore throat

  • Tender or swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpits

  • Swollen tonsils

  • Rash

  • Sore muscles or stiffness

  • Headache

  • Loss of appetite, nausea

  • Dull pain in the stomach area

Treating Mono

Because it is a viral infection, antibiotics won’t cure mono. The best treatment for mono is rest. A child with mono should also drink lots of fluids. To help your child feel better and recover sooner:

  • Make sure the child gets plenty of rest.

  • Keep the child warm.

  • Feed the child plenty of clear, room-temperature fluids, such as water or apple juice.

  • Do not let anyone smoke around the child.

  • Treat the child’s fever, sore throat, or aching muscles with children’s acetaminophen. NEVER give your child aspirin.

Symptoms usually last for a few weeks, but can sometimes last for one to two months or longer. Even after symptoms have gone away, your child may be tired or weak for some time.

Preventing the Spread of Mono

While you’re caring for a child with mono:

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap often, especially before and after tending to your sick child.

  • Monitor your own health and that of other family members

  • Limit a sick child’s contact with other children.

  • Clean dishes and eating utensils used by a sick child separately in very hot, soapy water. Or run them through the dishwasher.

When to Call the Doctor

Call the doctor right away if your otherwise healthy child:

  • Is an infant under 3 months old with a rectal temperatuer of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

  • Is a child 3 to 36 months with a rectal temperatore of 102°F (39.0°C)

  • Is a child of any age who has a temperatuer of 103°F (39.4°C) or higher

  • Has a fever that lasts more than 24-hours in a child under 2 years old, or for 3 days in a child 2 years or older

  • Has had a seizure caused by the fever

  • Experiences difficult or rapid breathing.

  • Cannot be soothed or shows signs of irritability or restlessness.

  • Seems unusually drowsy, listless, or unresponsive.

  • Has trouble eating, drinking, or swallowing.

  • Stops breathing, even for an instant.

  • Shows signs of severe chest or abdominal pain.

 

 
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