Glandular fever test

Glandular Fever

What is Glandular Fever

Glandular Fever or Infectious Mononucleosis (IM ) also known as mono for short is caused by the Epstein Barr virus (EBV)

Glandular fever symptoms and signs

 Glandular Fever symptoms and signs

  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands in the neck 
  • High temperature 
  • Tired and lethargic, often quite extreme
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Aching muscles
  • Abdominal pain can sometimes occur as sometimes the liver or spleen is affected
  • Liver or spleen may be tender when abdomen examined by doctor

Is Glandular Fever contagious?

  • Yes glandular fever is caused by a virus and it is contagious.
  • The virus is spread by saliva.
  • The virus can not live outside the human body for long.

How do you catch Glandular Fever?

  • Glandular Fever is transmitted in saliva so if you have contact with the saliva of someone who is infected for example sharing a cup or cutlery then you could become infected
  • It can also be spread by coughs and sneezes
  • One common way that Glandular Fever is transmitted is through kissing which is why it is common in teenagers and young adults. 

How long is Glandular Fever contagious

  • Glandular fever is contagious for several months after the infection so care must be taken with hygiene to avoid passing it on to others. 
  • After you are exposed to Glandular fever the illness takes several weeks to develop and the symptoms can come on slowly

Glandular Fever diagnosis

  • Glandular fever is diagnosed by your doctor or GP from the symptoms and signs and then they will usual perform a blood test to confirm the diagnosis or rule it out if the diagnosis is not clear.

Glandular Fever blood test

  • Commonly known as the monospot test
  • Usually requires a venous blood sample
  • Instant near patient infectious mononucleoisis test kits are now available which give an instant result
  • Home test kits for Glandular Fever will soon be available over the counter that are done on a finger prick blood test

Glandular Fever treatment

There is no cure for Glandular fever but there are things that can help to alleviate the symptoms:

  • Rest is very important
  • Paracetamol or Ibuprofen for the fever
  • Plenty of fluids

Glandular Fever in adults

  • Glandular fever symptoms in adults can sometimes be worse than in children and teenagers, and they may take longer to recover.
  • The basic symptoms and signs are usually the same although in an older adult the throat symptoms may be less as most adults do not have tonsils (they shrink as we get older and some adults will have had them removed as children) and the glands may not be as swollen.
  • Recovery time may be longer in adults as children seem to recover very quickly from viral infections

 Glandular Fever in children

  • Symptoms are the same as above
  • Glandular fever is common in children but the diagnosis can often be missed as children get so many viral infections with similar symptoms
  • The recovery time for Glandular Fever in children is often quicker than in adults
  • Many children infected with Glandular Fever my only get a mild illness

Glandular Fever recovery time

  • How long Glandular Fever last varies enormously between individuals
  • Children tend to recover more quickly than adults as is true in most things in medicine
  • The tiredness and lethargy is usually the last symptom to go and can last several months
  • You should avoid vigorous exercise for several months after the illness as the internal organs particularly the liver and spleen may be swollen, and over exercising could damage them. Take your doctors advice on when you can resume your normal activities as it will depend on the severity of the illness and symptoms and signs that you had. 

Long term effects of Glandular Fever

  • Most children and adults who get Glandular Fever will make a full recovery
  • Prolonged fatigue is the commonest long term effect and may last a long time after the acute illness has subsided 

Can you get Glandular Fever more than once

  • For most people who get Glandular fever it is a one off infection and then they are immune to it
  • Recurring glandular fever can sometimes occur as the virus is able to stay dormant in the body so it is possible to get Glandular Fever twice. In the rare case where it occurs twice it is often within months or a year of first infection and may mean that it is a resurgence of the initial infection.

Complications of Glandular Fever

There are some serious complications of Glandular Fever that would require hospital admission that you should look out for, but fortunately most people will not get these:

  • Dehydration if sore throat or enlarged tonsils making drinking difficult ( this can occur quickly in children)
  • Obstruction to breathing from massive tonsils
  • Pneumonia
  • Hepatitis where the virus infects the liver
  • Meningitis
  • Spleen rupture (fortunately rare) 
  • Anaemia


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1 comment

Really useful article, thank you.

Nick Highton

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