Mono (mononucleosis) is a highly contagious disease that affects mainly children and young adults, although it can affect older adults too. Mono is most commonly caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, also known as herpes4. It is mainly spread by contact with saliva, giving rise to it often being called the ‘kissing disease’. The incubation period is four to six weeks and many children exhibit no symptoms other than a slight fever. This makes it especially easy for the virus to spread, as people are unaware that they are contagious. Diagnosis is difficult until symptoms are well developed, but a blood test for specific antibodies can be used. Because it is a virus, antibiotics are of no use in treating mono and can actually aggravate the condition because they destroy good bacteria in the digestive system. This leads to a weakening of the immune system and allows the virus to flourish. Most people will recover in a few weeks, but the virus can remain in the body and flare up again and again whenever the immune system is compromised.
People suffering from mono most often complain about being unusually tired and lacking energy. This can be debilitating and in extreme cases lead to the inability to function normally. Excessive fatigue is one of the commonest symptoms of mono and when combined with some of the other symptoms listed below, makes it likely that you have been infected by the virus. If you have been feeling unnaturally tired and lacking in energy for more than a few days, it may be an indication that a visit to your medical doctor or health professional for diagnosis is advisable.