Here’s a question from a reader (who wishes to remain anonymous to preserve domestic tranquility):
Dear Dr. McEver,
My teenage daughter was diagnosed with mono two weeks ago, and she still seems tired. One day she’s okay, the next she’s not. Does it really take this long to recover?
Dr. McEver Prescribes
The short answer is, in some cases, yes. Now here’s the long answer.
Infectious mononucleosis is usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, one of the most common human viruses. Epstein-Barr typically infects more than 95% of us at some point in our lives. For most, infections occur during childhood and result in a mild cold or no symptoms.
However, those who encounter the virus later in life, like your daughter, tend to have a rougher go. Infection with Epstein-Barr during adolescence or young adulthood causes symptomatic mono as frequently as half the time.
The most acute symptoms – fever, sore throat, rash and body aches – usually resolve in two to four weeks. But occasionally, severe fatigue can persist much longer. In one study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that in teens with mono, about 1 in 10 continued to show fatigue a full six months after diagnosis.
Mono can also result in an enlarged spleen, which in rare cases can burst following strain or impact. For that reason, fatigue or not, your daughter should take it easy and avoid contact sports and vigorous physical activity for at least a month.
In some, mono can cause complications like strep throat, sinus infection or tonsillitis that further delay recovery. If your daughter’s symptoms change or worsen, contact her pediatrician.
Getting plenty of rest is key to recovering from mono. Don’t rush your daughter’s recovery. With patience, she’ll be back to a regular teenage schedule in due time.
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