Mononucleosis has the distinction of being one of the diseases that will afflict 95 percent of the population at some point of time in life. In the US, studies have documented that more than half of the children are likely to be affected with the condition by the time the children reach 5 years. Commonly known as the kissing disease, the condition is typically transmitted by saliva, and is also known to spread through sneezing, sharing objects used in eating/drinking. The condition, not as contagious as the common cold or other infections, has also given rise to claims and beliefs. Let’s dissect the condition with scientifically supported evidence and look at one such question – can you get mono more than once? This is one among the top questions doing the rounds about the prevalence of the condition and its effects.
What is mono and can you get mono more than once?
Mono, the shorter and popular form of infectious mononucleosis is generally caused due to Epstein-Barr virus, although it can also be due to other viruses. A large number of patients are unlikely to be aware of the condition as in most cases, the symptoms are mild and are sometimes not even recognized as a condition that merits medical intervention. This is common among young children afflicted with mono infections. This is exactly why there is very high incidence rate of 95%, yet most individuals are unaware of the condition. Before we look at the question – can you get mono more than once, it is necessary to dig a little deeper into the symptoms and resolution of the condition, which will help in identifying the infection.
Common symptoms of mononucleosis infections
The common symptoms of mono include the following, however, in the cases of the elderly the following symptoms need not necessarily be experienced. Symptoms include :
· Throbbing pain in the head
· Enlarged spleen and swollen tonsils
· High fever and rashes on the skin
· Sore throat that doesn’t heal despite usual treatment
· Swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits and neck
One of the common conditions associated with the infection is the fact that sore throat is often wrongly diagnosed as strep throat. Consequently, individuals end up receiving antibiotics for strep throat and end up with no relief from the symptoms. This can also be an easy method of zeroing in on infectious mononucleosis as the reason behind the symptoms. It is now time to answer the question – can you get mono more than once? The straight answer to the question is no, you will not get mono more than once in your life as you will build up antibodies, and as a result you will have immunity from further infections. Therefore if you have already contracted the infection, you will not develop symptoms that are associated with the condition. It is also necessary to add here, that it is also possible that you may not have actually experienced symptoms that are commonly associated with the condition. This effectively means that you may not be in a position to know if you have contracted the condition in the past.
How long does the symptoms last?
The symptoms typically last for around two months. In some cases, the symptoms may self-resolve in six weeks or so, whereas in some cases certain symptoms can last for as long as 6 months. The answer to the question can you get mono more than once is certainly no, but it is necessary to be aware that the condition can result in uncomfortable complications that may stretch for a long time. The incubation period of the infection is typically anywhere between four weeks to eight weeks. Most of the symptoms resolve in a short span of time, whereas a few symptoms may remain or manifest beyond two weeks. These are the complications that require medical intervention.
To identify the condition, it is necessary to undergo lab tests or imaging in certain cases. In most of the cases the condition resolves by itself without the need for medication or intervention. In a significant number of cases, across age groups, the condition may resolve in a very short time. In a limited number of cases, diagnosis and treatment is necessary to prevent complications that may arise from the condition.
What are the present methods of diagnosis for infectious mononucleosis?
The answer to the question – can you get mono more than once is negative, which offers considerable relief. However, it is essential to understand the symptoms and the diagnosis to determine the presence/absence of the infection, which will help to treat the condition better and faster. Presently, there is no vaccine for the prevention of mononucleosis. Diagnosis generally used for identifying the condition includes physical examination, antibody test, and serological tests. Through physical examination specialists get to identify various telltale symptoms such as enlarged spleen, swollen lymph nodes/swollen tonsils. Patients who report fatigue with other visible signs such as rashes on the skin also help in the quick diagnosis of the condition.
Some of the more conclusive tests include an antibody test, and serology tests that look for antibodies that are present in response to Epstein-Barr virus. These tests determine if the patient has an ongoing infection, on the basis of which treatment can then be commenced. While the infection self-resolves, treatment options exist to control the symptoms and to prevent the infection from manifesting to adverse conditions. For instance, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, paracetamol, corticosteroids, and antivirals are used to treat patients depending on the severity of the condition.
What kind of complications can manifest from the symptoms?
While the answer to can you get mono more than once is in the negative, the types of complications possible from the condition warrant closer attention. For instance, the following complications are possible as a result of the manifestation of the condition.
#1 Spleen enlargement
Patients with the condition are exposed to the risk of spleen enlargement. Individuals experiencing pain on the upper left side of the abdomen, in combination with the some of the common symptoms listed above, need to seek urgent medical attention. This is critical, as in a limited number of cases, the enlarged spleen can rupture, causing further complications. Therefore, patients experiencing abnormal and sharp pain in the upper left of the abdomen are advised to rush to a hospital for imaging/diagnosis.
#2 Deterioration of condition of the liver
Another condition that is commonly associated with infectious mononucleosis, is the deterioration of the condition of the liver. As a result of this, patients may slip into other diseases such as jaundice or hepatitis. Due to poor liver condition as a manifestation of mono, it is possible that patients may end up with an inflamed liver – hepatitis. Similarly, patients may also end up with jaundice as a result of mono, of left untreated despite manifestation of the condition.
#3 Adverse impact on individuals with impaired immunity levels
Although the question can you get mono more than once has elicited a scientifically backed satisfactory response, it is necessary to understand that the infection can cause an adverse impact on certain patients. For instance, individuals who are already immuno-compromised due to existing illnesses are at higher risk levels. Patients with conditions such as HIV/AIDS or weak immune systems are at risk of falling sick to infections easily.
#4 Severely affects individuals who receive organ transplants
Patients who have received an organ transplant are likely to be on immunity suppressing medications to ensure that the transplanted organ is not rejected by the host body. This reduces the immunity levels of the patient as a medical necessity to improve the success of the organ transplantation. Such patients who are infected with mono are at risk of falling sick to infections easily as a result of the immunity suppressing medications and the infection.
#5 Breathing difficulties in patients
As a result of the swollen tonsils, a limited number of patients are likely to experience difficulty breathing. This will resolve as the condition self-heals and is most likely to gradually disappear in two weeks or less. However, in patients with infections and symptoms that are stronger, the duration may extend.
#6 Other complications
Some of the other common complications include a decrease in red blood cell count and hemoglobin, low platelet count, and heart muscle inflammation. In addition to this, patients are exposed to the risk of experiencing nervous system related complications such as encephalitis and meningitis. These complications are not common but are restricted to a limited number of cases only.
How to prevent yourself from getting infected?
Since the question can you get mono more than once has been conclusively answered, it is now necessary to look at ways to prevent contracting the infection. The most common reason for the condition is Epstein-Barr virus, while other viruses including Cytomegalovirus are also responsible for a limited number of cases. Infections typically spread through saliva, which includes sharing of products used for eating/drinking such as glasses, plates, spoons etc. There are instances of the infection spreading through sexual acts and blood. However, the most common is through saliva, which explains the term kissing disease.
The strongest possibility of the infection spreading from one to another, is in the first six weeks after an individual has contracted the infection. During this stage, the symptoms are unlikely to be full blown in most cases, which make it difficult to take suitable preventive measures. Though it is true that the answer to the question can you get mono more than once offers relief, the manner in which the infection spreads is cause for concern. The only medical advice presently available is for patients with the condition. Individuals who have been diagnosed with the condition can prevent the infection from spreading to others by not indulging in kissing, sexual acts or sharing of dishes, glasses, spoons used for consuming food/drinking.