The first thing to know about the kissing disease is that it is not only spread by kissing. So, don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. Mononucleosis, more commonly referred to as mono, is spread through coughing, sneezing, or having direct contact with an infected person’s saliva. This means, it can be spread by sharing a straw or eating utensil, too.
Infected kids and teens develop flu-like symptoms. The Epstein-Barr virus is the culprit, and it is very common. Babies and younger children often show no symptoms after being exposed to the virus. Young adults and teens are more prone to developing mono after exposure to EBV. Once a child is infected with the virus, they carry it for life.
Signs and Symptoms
Unexplained fatigue is the most common symptoms. Most kids infected feel too weak to do anything but sleep. Other common symptoms include a sore throat, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Some children will also have sore muscles, headaches, abdominal pain, skin rash, and swollen tonsils. Symptoms will generally go away on their own in two to four weeks. However it is not uncommon for affected teens to experience fatigue for months.
Prevention and Treatment
There is no way to fully protect your child from the virus. There is not a vaccine for it, and kids are often exposed through an infected individual who has not even experienced symptoms yet. You may not be able to fully prevent it, but your child’s risk can be significantly reduced by teaching them to wash their hands often. Obviously, you are not there with them at school, so they have understood the importance of hand-washing, even when someone isn’t telling them to do it. They should also be taught to not share straws, drinking bottles, and utensils, as well.
Rest is the best treatment you can offer. Aching muscles and fever can be addressed with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. It is important to remember to never give a child aspirin, if they have a viral illness, as it can cause Reye’s syndrome.
Keeping them comfortable is all you can do. They will probably only be awake for short periods, but during these times they will probably appreciated books checked out of the library or loaded on your tablet. Consider making them a bed on your sofa bean bag in the living room or media room. This way when they wake up, they are around family and won’t feel so isolated. If you don’t have a sofa bean bag yet, they are a must, and you can find them online at websites like ProHomeStores.com.