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Dear Dr. Levister:

My doctor told me I have infectious mononucleosis. I thought I just had the ‘flu.’ Is this serious?

Dear L.W.:

Infectious mononucleosis, or “mono” is also known as the “kissing disease” because of a common belief that it is passed from one person to another through oral contact.

Exactly how it does spread is not known, but it is not usually an epidemic disease such as influenza. If you get mononucleosis, the virus may spread through your bloodstream into almost any organ in your body.

The infection, therefore, can have a variety of symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms are swollen lymph glands and high fever.

You may think at first that you have the ‘flu’ since the early symptoms of infectious mononucleosis are similar to those of ‘flu’. These include fever, headache, sore throat and a general feeling of illness and weakness.

After a day or two you may also notice that you have painful, swollen glands in your neck, armpits and/or groin. In addition, you may develop jaundice (yellow hue) or a skin rash similar to that of German measles.

All these major symptoms usually disappear within two to three weeks; weakness and lack of energy may linger for several weeks. You may also find that you are depressed.
Infectious mononucleosis is common.

50% of the population in the United States are positive for antibodies to the virus by age 5. Children and young adults are most susceptible to the disease.

Mononucleosis is not a dangerous disease, however once the infection has disappeared altogether there are no after-effects.

If the symptoms persist for more than a few days, and especially if your glands are swollen, consult your physician.
Drink plenty of fruit juices and water especially if you have a fever, and stay indoors.

Your physician may have you take aspirin or an aspirin substitute. Rest is essential to your recovery. Do not attempt to return to your normal daily routine for at least a month after the illness begins.

Because infectious mononucleosis is a viral disease, antibiotics will not be of any help. The disease, unfortunately, must simply run its course.

Dr. Levister welcomes reader mail concerning their body but regrets that he is not able to answer individual letters. Your letters will be incorporated into the column as space permits.

You may direct your letters to Dr. Levister in care of Black Voice News, P.O. Box 1581, Riverside, CA 92502.

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