Mononucleosis Diagnosis and Treatment

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Story at-a-glance -

  • While people don’t usually show severe symptoms, which often leads to misdiagnosis, there are numerous ways to make sure that this illness is accurately identified
  • To avoid the possible negative effects from conventional medications recommended for mononucleosis, here are some of the safer choices you can consider

Mononucleosis diagnosis usually starts by checking the presence of its symptoms. While people don't usually show severe symptoms, which often leads to misdiagnosis, there are numerous ways to make sure that this illness is accurately identified. The diagnosis of mononucleosis usually depends on the following factors:1

Age. Adolescents have a higher chance of contracting mononucleosis. However, this does not mean that older people cannot be affected by the Epstein-Barr virus.

Physical exam. Physical exams for diagnosing mononucleosis usually focus on feeling the lymph nodes, checking for rashes and feeling the upper part of the abdomen to check if the spleen is enlarged.

History of contact. Some clinicians check the history of contact between patients and other people. This would make diagnosing mononucleosis easier through checking whether the person has had any contact with the Epstein-Barr virus.

The mononucleosis test is also used to diagnose mononucleosis. It's done by detecting proteins called heterophile antibodies. These are proteins that are produced by the body in response to an Epstein-Barr virus infection. A complete blood count can also be done to check if the white blood count is elevated. The presence of reactive lymphocytes also indicates mononucleosis.2

How Is Mononucleosis Treated?

While an Epstein-Barr infection is not at all treatable, medical practitioners provide certain recommendations to help mononucleosis patients alleviate or lessen the severity of their symptoms. Health practitioners usually give the following recommendations to help patients deal with the symptoms:3

Get lots of bed rest. Because of the severe fatigue that accompanies the other symptoms of mononucleosis, patients are recommended to take ample amounts of rest in order to help the body recuperate. While it's not necessary that you get complete bed rest, it's usually recommended in order to avoid straining your body.

Drink plenty of water and other fluids. Patients should drink plenty of water to help alleviate fever and avoid dehydration, which can cause other symptoms to worsen.4

Gargle salt water several times a day. Health practitioners recommend gargling 1/2 tablespoon of salt with 8 ounces of water to help relieve sore throat.

Avoid excessive physical activity. Mononucleosis patients should avoid strenuous physical activities, such as exercise, heavy lifting and other contact sports, for about two months from initial diagnosis to avoid spleen or liver rupture.5

One of the common mistakes of people who contract mononucleosis is their use of antibiotics. Being a viral infection, taking antibiotics for this condition is essentially useless and should not be practiced. Aside from its ineffectiveness in treating mononucleosis, the use of antibiotics can also lead to numerous health repercussions.6

Also note that the use of aspirin to treat mononucleosis symptoms is not advised because it may cause Reye's syndrome, a condition that occurs after a viral infection, which leads to the irreparable damage of the mitochondria. This syndrome may cause neurological damage and may sometimes even prove to be fatal.7

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Herbs That Can Help Treat Mononucleosis

To avoid the possible negative effects from conventional medications recommended for mononucleosis, here are some of the safer choices you can consider:8,9

Astragalus root. The astragalus plant has strong antiviral properties that can help the immune system fight off a handful of viruses.10 Currently, there are no conclusive studies whether this herb directly affects the Epstein-Barr virus, but it has been observed to support immune function.

Echinacea root. Echinacea is an immunomodulatory, which means that it has the ability to regulate immune response to certain infections. Because of Epstein-Barr's effect on the immune system and the elevated white blood cells produced, the intake of echinacea root may help minimize the effect this virus has on the immune system. It should be noted that children and people with rheumatoid arthritis should steer away from this herb.

Green tea. Green tea has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may help ease and alleviate the symptoms of mononucleosis, especially the swelling of the tonsils and sore throat.

Lemon balm leaf. Lemon balm is famous for its ability to strengthen the immune system. Using lemon balm can help weaken the Epstein-Barr virus and alleviate sore throat, which is one of the symptoms of mononucleosis.

MORE ABOUT MONONUCLEOSIS

Introduction: Mononucleosis

What Is Mononucleosis?

Mononucleosis Symptoms

Mononucleosis Causes

Mononucleosis Treatment

Mononucleosis Prevention

Mononucleosis Diet

Mononucleosis FAQ


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