Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Nancy Carteron, MD, FACR
STD Symptoms – Mononucleosis
Mononucleosis can cause a number of different symptoms, depending on the strain of the virus and several other poorly understood factors.
In adolescents and adults, it may or may not cause symptoms.
The usual time between infection and the appearance of symptoms is thought to be 30 to 50 days.
The main symptoms of mononucleosis are:
- Extreme fatigue
- General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
- Muscle weakness
- Night sweats
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck and armpit
- Swollen tonsils
Less frequently occurring symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Jaundice (yellow color to the skin)
- Neck stiffness
- Rapid heart rate
- Sensitivity to light
- Shortness of breath
- Skin rashes
- Swollen spleen
Usually, the infection begins with a general feeling of illness and fatigue that lasts several days to a week. These vague symptoms are followed by fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes. The fever usually peaks at about 103° F (about 39° C) in the afternoon or early evening. The throat is often very sore, and pus-like material may be present at the back of the throat. Most commonly, the lymph nodes of the neck are swollen, but any lymph node may be swollen.
In some people, the only symptom is swollen lymph nodes.
Fatigue is usually most pronounced during the first 2 to 3 weeks and may last 6 weeks or more.
The spleen is enlarged in about 50% of people with infectious mononucleosis. In most infected people, an enlarged spleen causes few if any symptoms, but it may rupture, particularly if injured. The liver may also enlarge slightly.
Less commonly, jaundice and swelling around the eyes occur. Skin rashes also develop infrequently. However, people with a mononucleosis infection who take the antibiotic ampicillin usually develop a rash.
Other very rare complications include:
- Nerve damage
- Behavioral abnormalities
- Inflammation of the brain or tissues covering the brain
- Blockage of airways by the swollen lymph nodes
How long symptoms last varies.
After about 2 weeks, symptoms have been known to subside, and most people can resume their usual activities. However, fatigue may persist for several more weeks and, occasionally, for months or longer.
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