By Richard Tenczar, MD, FAAP
April 13, 2021
Category: Child Health Care
Mono, nicknamed the “kissing disease” because of how easily it spreads from person to person, is a viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Pediatricians most often see this infection in teens and it may be mistaken for the flu. While most cases of mono will go away on their own, it can take months for a child or teen to fully recover. It’s important to be able to recognize the differences between the influenza virus and mono.
What are the symptoms of mono?
Symptoms will vary between children, teens, and adults. Children don’t typically show the standard symptoms of mono. In fact, mono might look more like a cold or flu in your little one. The classic symptoms associated with mono are more apparent in teens and young adults between the ages of 15 to 24 years old.
Classic mono symptoms include,
- High fever
- Extreme fatigue and exhaustion
- Body aches
- Muscle weakness
- Swollen lymph nodes of the neck
- Sore throat
Symptoms such as fatigue, body aches, and muscle weakness may be severe and can last for several weeks.
When should I turn to a pediatrician?
As you might already know, many of the symptoms above can be caused by colds, flu, and other infections that aren’t mono. If your child’s symptoms are mild, then you might not need to come into our office right away. Of course, if symptoms persist for weeks or get worse, then it’s time to visit your pediatrician.
You should call your pediatrician right away if,
- Your child develops a severe headache or sore throat
- Has seizures
- Displays changes in behavior
- Has a very high fever over 104 F
- Is dehydrated
- Develops a rash
While teens and adults can often be diagnosed through a standard physical examination, your pediatrician may need to perform blood tests to detect the Epstein-Barr virus in babies and young children.
If you are concerned that your teen may have mono, you must schedule an appointment with their pediatrician as soon as possible. While most cases will go away on their own without treatment, your child’s doctor can provide you with options for helping your child better manage their symptoms and feel better faster.