How is mononucleosis (mono) managed or treated?

There isn’t a vaccine or cure for mono. Antibiotics to fight bacterial infection and antiviral medications to kill other viruses don’t work against mono. Instead, treatments focus on helping you feel better by relieving symptoms. Your care might include:

  • Rest: Mono makes you very tired. Sleep helps your body fight infection.
  • Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Pain relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) ease fever, inflammation, headaches and muscle aches. These drugs include ibuprofen (Advil®) and naproxen (Aleve®). Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) also works.
  • Sore throat soothers: You can gargle with salt water and use throat lozenges.
  • Avoiding sports: Physical activity can put too much pressure on an enlarged spleen, increasing the risk of rupture. You should avoid contact sports and strenuous exercise while you’re sick and for up to four weeks afterward.

What are the complications of mononucleosis (mono)?

Mono symptoms tend to gradually improve in about four weeks. Feelings of fatigue can linger for months. Some people miss some school or work as they recover.

An enlarged spleen that ruptures (bursts) is the biggest concern with mono in previously healthy individuals. This gland in the upper left abdomen (belly) helps filter blood. If your spleen bursts, it can bleed into your abdomen. Internal bleeding from a ruptured spleen can be life-threatening and requires emergency surgery. Your healthcare provider may tell you to avoid strenuous exercise, contact sports and heavy lifting until you feel better.

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