Glandular Fever

Glandular Fever


Glandular Fever is an acute viral infection properly known as infectious mononucleosis. It tends to mainly affect young adults, however can strike at any age. It is a rarely fatal disease but is very unpleasant while in it's most intense stages. Commonly referred to as the "Kissing Disease" it has gained this name due to research which suggests it is spread by close contact and passed from one person to another via the mouth.

How do you catch it?
Often the illness is caught from someone who has no symptoms. Often referred to as the "Kissing disease" it is usually brought on by close contact. 50% of people who are infected with the virus will develop symptoms, others can carry the virus not knowing they have it. Young children can become infected by saliva on toys or by using the same cups or utensils.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Glandular Fever are usually sore throat, fever and symptoms similar to tonsilitis with exudate (deposits of fluid) around the tonsils. Other symptoms are headache, nausea (especially when eating fatty or oily meals as the liver is affected by the infection), swollen glands in the throat, groin and under the arms. A lack of energy is usually prevalent and Glandular fever is one of the suggested causes of chronic fatigue syndrome.

What parts of the body does it affect?
Obviously the glands are affected as lymph nodes are enlarged. Glands are found in the front and side of the neck, behind the ears, the groin and armpits. 50 % of cases have an enlarged spleen and in severe cases, the liver can be affected, causing jaundice (yellow colouration)

How long does it last?
Usually Glandular Fever is present in the body for 4-6 weeks before the patient actually knows they have the infection. Once the signs of the infection appear the major symptoms last for 2-3 weeks then lessen over the next 2 weeks. However the patient may feel tired and depressed for several weeks after this and it is most important not to rush back into things. It is vital to rest and take ones time in getting back in to the usual routine of life.

What can you do to get better?
There is no antibiotic or medicine a patient can take to get better. It is a matter of getting plenty of rest and taking care of yourself. You cannot be immunised against glandular fever. There is no specific treatment, however paracetamol or aspirin in modest doses can be taken to help relieve discomfort and pain.

Do not drink alcohol or eat fatty foods as these are processed by the liver and as Glandular fever affects the liver it is best to try and avoid anything that will cause further stress to it. Drink plenty of water and fruit juices as the fever endured can cause some dehydration. Gargling soluable aspirin/disprin can help give relief to the sore throat as can lozenges with antiseptic.

Is there any long term damage or associated conditions?
Some people can come down with hepatitis after being infected with Glandular fever, but this is rare. Others can be affected by Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin caused by damage to the liver). Some healthy young adults can go on to be long-term carriers of the virus.

Most importantly attempting to do too much, too soon, can make things worse. So make sure you take it very easy and be patient.

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- Michelle Palmer