Skip to content

Information and Resources

Font Size
A
A
A

Understanding Mononucleosis -- Treatment

What Is the Treatment for Mononucleosis?

The wide range of symptoms associated with mononucleosis can make diagnosis difficult. Your doctor will begin by giving you a complete physical exam. A throat culture may be taken to rule out strep throat, which has similar symptoms. The doctor may take a blood sample to look for the presence of abnormal white blood cells.

A heterophile antibody test, commonly called a “Monospot,” may also  be done. This test examines the blood for special antibodies that your body produces in response to a viral infection in an effort to fight it off. This test isn’t always accurate, especially in younger children, and it takes several days for it to become positive after a child starts to feel ill.

Recommended Related to

Understanding Encephalitis -- The Basics

Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain tissue, is rare, affecting about one in 200,000 people each year in the U.S.  When it strikes, it can be very serious, causing personality changes, seizures, weakness, and other symptoms depending on the part of the brain affected.  Children, the elderly, and those with a weak immune system are most vulnerable. The disease is usually caused by one of several viral infections, so it's sometimes referred to as viral encephalitis. Many people who have encephalitis...

Read the Understanding Encephalitis -- The Basics article > >

The results of these tests are not always clear, however, and additional tests may be needed. Time is required for the body to produce antibodies, so a blood test done on the third day of illness, for instance, may be negative -- while another blood test looking for antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus can be done to confirm the diagnosis, especially in younger children who test negative on the Monospot test.

Most people recover from mononucleosis within two weeks. So a common treatment plan for mono is complete bed rest with a gradual return to normal activity. Because the spleen, an organ in the abdomen, is often enlarged with mononucleosis infection, it's at a greater risk of being ruptured. Contact sports such as football and soccer should be avoided at least for several weeks. Your doctor can clear you for a return to contact sports.

In addition to bed rest, your doctor may prescribe ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or a steroid for the fever, sore throat, and other discomforts of the illness. Because of possible liver involvement, check with your doctor about using acetaminophen.

Do not give aspirin to children. Aspirin should be avoided because it has been associated with a disease called Reye's syndrome, a serious illness that can lead to death.

If your sore throat is so severe that you have trouble breathing or eating, your doctor may give you prednisone, a steroid drug.

How Can I Prevent Mononucleosis?

Most people will come in contact with the virus that causes mononucleosis at some point in their lives, so there is no sure way to prevent catching mononucleosis. But keeping your immune system strong with rest, exercise, and diet may play a role in keeping you from becoming very ill from the illness.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Daniel Brennan, MD on March 12, 2014

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

bloodstream
Tips to help prevent clots.
checking blood sugar
Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
Live and thrive.
gloved hand holding syringe
10 preventable diseases.
psoriasis
How to identify that bite.
man eating meal
Folates, green tea and more.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
Woman with stressed, fatigue
Get relief tips.
restroom sign
Food and drinks that make you go.
two male hands
Understanding RA.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.