Mononucleosis, more commonly known as “Mono” is relatively common among college students. It is caused by the spreading of the Epstein-Barr virus through saliva, mucus, and sometimes even tears. Many call Mono “the kissing disease”, because it is notoriously spread through kissing, but here are some facts you might not know about the disease.
1. Mono isn’t only spread through kissing.
Because Mono is spread though saliva, using utensils, toothbrushes, or cups that have been used by someone with Mono can spread the virus. However, because it is not spread through respiratory droplets like most colds are, you can live with a person who has mono and not become infected.
2. Symptoms don’t start right away.
Symptoms of Mono don’t generally appear until 4 to 6 weeks after you are exposed to the virus. Symptoms generally include high fever, sore throat, swollen glands, and fatigue.
3. Even when you get over Mono, you will always carry the virus.
Even though your symptoms go away after a month or two, the Epstein-Barr virus will remain in your system. While it is usually dormant, it may go active from time to time without causing any symptoms. When the virus is active, it can be spread to others. However, you will never get Mono again.
4. Mono can cause your spleen to swell.
Because of this, people with Mono are urged not to do a great deal of physical activity or heavy lifting, because impact or straining could cause the spleen to burst.
5. Mono doesn’t require treatment in most cases
However, in order to get better you need to take care of yourself. Getting lots of rest and taking nonprescription medication to reduce fever and sore throat are ways to make sure your case doesn’t extend its welcome.
6. College students are among nurses and people in the military as one of the most likely groups to get Mono.
In 2011, approximately 2% of college students reported being diagnosed with Mononucleosis.
As a college student, the most you can do to prevent getting Mono is being particularly careful around people that have it. While it doesn’t cause much more than fatigue and fever, Mono’s academic impact can be dangerous. If you get Mono, make sure to stay on pain relievers like Tylenol and Advil while also being sure to keep up with your school work.
This article was originally published in June 2013 and has since been updated.