HOW TO: Survive Mono
Mononucleosis, called "mono" for short, or Glandular Fever, in the UK, is an immune response to one of two viruses, Epstein-Barr or CMV. Symptoms include a sore throat, fever, body aches, and most of all, seriously debilitating weakness and exhaustion.
I've been suffering through a lousy case of mono for the past couple of months, and I've learned a trick or two.
How Long Does Mono Last?
The acute symptoms of mono, for most people, go away in about two weeks to a month, but the fatigue and weakness can linger for much longer. Some people still feel sick six months or even a year after they first get sick.
In general, the older you are, the more severe mono is. Young children who get it usually only have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, while adults often get very sick. It's similar to how chicken pox is much more serious in adults than in kids.
Also, if you have an inflamed spleen (about half of people with mono do), you need to check with your doctor to find out how long to wait before you can resume activities like contact sports or manual labor. Usually it's about three months.
Because mono is a virus, there is no specific treatment. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or steroids if you have a co-existing infection or immune-response, but they won't treat the mono itself.
That doesn't mean there aren't medications that can make you feel better, though. Tylenol or Motrin will help with sore throat pain and with fever, and numbing throat sprays can bring a lot of relief as well. And stock up on your favorite flavor of cough drops, too.
Other "medications?" Juice, popsicles, and soup.
Take It Easy
Especially at the beginning of your illness. Mono is a great excuse to lie around, and you should take it. It's what your body needs right now. Stay home from work or school for as long as you can, and sleep, sleep, sleep. It shouldn't be hard.
Okay, so maybe this one is only if you have a lil' bit of a shopping problem, but getting packages is always fun, and ordering new clothes or makeup or other goodies will remind you that someday you will not be too sick to wear them. If you don't have a friend or family member who can do grocery shopping for you, look into a grocery delivery service. Let the housework go. Get a babysitter to take the kids out of the house midday so you can grab a nap. Hire someone to come over to walk your dog.
Alternate Days of Activity with Days of Rest
If you can't afford or don't want help with chores, try to do them every other day instead of every day. Or if you have to leave the house for a doctor's appointment, try to schedule it so you have a free day the day after just to rest. As I started to get better, I noticed I could power through a day pretty well, but I'd be wrecked the next morning.
Exercise is good during your recovery. Don't push yourself, but once you're on the mend, it's good to try to get some light exercise in every other day. And then sleep through your off-days as much as you can.