Could I have mononucleosis?

What is mono?

Mono (infectious mononucleosis) is a viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus in most cases. It is spread through intimate contact with saliva, which is why it is known as the "kissing disease." Mono also can be spread by sharing a drinking glass or eating utensils. The virus can be spread through tears and mucus as well.

It may take four to six weeks from when a person is infected with the virus to when symptoms develop.


Symptoms can include any or all of the following:

  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue
  • Malaise
  • Swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck and/or armpit
  • Sore throat, often with swollen tonsils and white patches on the tonsils
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Lack of appetite
  • Skin rash
  • Pain in the upper abdomen


There is no specific treatment or cure for mono. Antibiotics will not treat viral infections such as mono.

Recommendations to help treat the symptoms of mono are as follows:

  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve) to help with fever, sore throat, aches and pains.
  • Over-the-counter cold medications may help with cold-like symptoms.
  • Gargling salt water may help relieve a sore throat.
  • Get plenty of rest—eight to ten hours of sleep per night.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Avoid exercise and physical activity for four to six weeks.
  • Avoid alcohol.

Duration of symptoms

Length of mono symptoms tend to vary per person. Most symptoms ease within a few weeks, but symptoms of fatigue can last up to two to three months.

University of Iowa students can schedule an appointment with a provider at Student Health and Wellness online through their MyChart account or by calling 1-319-335-8394.
Last reviewed: 
August 2017
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