Mononucleosis in children, as in adults, is an infectious illness commonly known as “the kissing disease” or “mono.”
Despite its sweet-sounding name, the symptoms of mono are far from endearing. This infection is caused by the Epstein-Barr (EBV) virus.
Mononucleosis is most common in individuals between the ages of 15 and 25. However, small children can also catch mono because they’re constantly exposed to kisses.
No one should be allowed to kiss your child on the mouth. Even as parents, we should refrain from kissing our children on the mouth because our mouths are a breeding ground for virus and bacteria.
Mononucleosis and other diseases spread easily through kissing on the lips.
Causes of mononucleosis in children
Mononucleosis is an illness that doesn’t spread as easily as the common cold. Nevertheless, the virus affects the lymph glands, throat, salivary glands, liver and spleen.
Mono is no laughing matter, so it’s good to know how it’s spread. That way, you can help protect your children against this nasty illness.
These are the main ways in which mononucleosis can spread from one individual to another:
- The number one way in which mononucleosis spreads is through saliva. For that reason, you shouldn’t allow anyone to kiss your children on the mouth. Furthermore, your children shouldn’t share silverware with others. The same is true for any toys they put in their mouth and, of course, oral hygiene items like toothbrushes.
- Sharing a pillow with someone who is infected will likely lead to infection.
- Being exposed to the coughing or sneezing of an infected person can also spread the virus.
Being able to easily recognize the symptoms of mononucleosis will help you react appropriately if your child is infected. Below are the main symptoms:
- Very high fever.
- Sore, swollen throat.
- Swelling and pain in the neck glands.
- Muscle pain and fatigue.
- Coughing and runny nose.
- Swelling of the eyelids.
- Increase in the size of the spleen (this can only be determined by a medical professional).
- Headache, loss of appetite, and general discomfort.
How to treat mononucleosis in children
We recommend the following:
- Keep your child hydrated at all times to reduce throat pain.
- Have your child gargle salt water. Make sure he maintains good oral hygiene and help him if necessary.
- If your child’s doctor recommends ibuprofen, then be sure your child takes it on schedule. Give your child the exact dosis recommended by the medical professional.
- Your child should rest and relax as much as possible to help her body fight the infection.
- Try to bring down your child’s temperature if fever exists.
- You should avoid allowing your child to participate in excessive physical activity. This is especially important if your child’s spleen is swollen, to prevent rupture.
- The swelling your child is experiencing will make it hard to swallow solids, as well as hot liquids and foods. Rather, you should give your child soft, cool items like dairy, lukewarm purees, juices, yogurts, etc.
- Keep your child away from places with smoke that can irritate the throat even more.
- Disinfect often. Pacifiers, toys, sippy cups and any other object that your child puts in her mouth should be disinfected. Otherwise, the virus can survive for several hours on these objects and spread the infection to others.
How long does mononucleosis last?
The duration of this illness will depend on each organism’s ability to defend itself against the virus.
The first thing you need to understand is that a person with mono can go up to 7 weeks after infection without showing symptoms. In other words, the incubation period is very long.
Once the first symptoms appear in a child, you can estimate that mononucleosis will last for 2-4 more weeks, though every case is different.
What else do I need to know
In very few cases, mononucleosis can bring about other complications, so you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Acute pain in the upper left side of the abdomen.
- Confusion or dizziness.
- Blurred vision.
If your child displays any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Lastly, it’s important to know that a person that is infected with this virus will have it in her organism for the rest of her life.
But don’t worry. This doesn’t mean that the symptoms will last forever. The virus will reside in your child’s body, but will no longer cause symptoms.
As far as spreading the illness goes, your child won’t be contagious for life. However, a person who has had mononucleosis should be careful for a full year after being infected so as not to spread the virus to others.