Glandular Fever: Symptoms, causes, and treatment
Learn more about glandular fever, sometimes known as ‘mono’, and how this infectious disease is spread
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
Glandular fever, also known as infectious mononucleosis, is an infectious disease that is caused by a virus in the body, which can result in fever, sore throat, fatigue and enlarged lymph glands in adolescents and young adults.
The name ‘mononucleosis’ is the reason why glandular fever is often referred to as ‘mono’.
How do you get glandular fever?
The most common cause of glandular fever is the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). EBV is a member of the herpes virus family.
The virus is is passed through contact with saliva, so things like kissing, sharing eating utensils, or drinking from the same glass can all cause the virus to spread.
The three most common symptoms of glandular fever are:
- Fever (i.e. temperature of over 38 degrees Celsius)
- Sore throat
- There may be swollen glands or nodes in your neck and/or other parts of your body, like your armpits
As well as these symptoms, some people experience additional symptoms, such as:
- Feeling unwell
- Chills and sweats
- Appetite loss
How do they diagnose glandular fever?
You will need to visit your doctor for a diagnosis. They will ask you about your symptoms and do a physical examination by looking for signs of things like swollen lymph nodes, tonsils, liver, and spleen.
The doctor might also do a blood test to confirm the diagnosis, called a ‘Monospot’ test.
While there is no one specific treatment for glandular fever, there are a number of ways to control the symptoms. Antibiotics do not treat glandular fever as it is a viral infection, and there are no known antiviral medications that are available
Ways to manage glandular fever include:
- Rest – if you do this at the beginning, your recovery time will speed up
- Fluids – plenty of water will prevent you from becoming dehydrated
- Paracetamol to relieve symptoms of pain and fever
- Salt water – gargling salt water relieves the symptoms of a sore throat
It’s also recommended that you avoid contact sports for at least the first 3 to 4 weeks due to the risk of splenic rupture.
Most people who develop glandular fever recover completely with no long-term complications. Symptoms usually start to improve within one to two weeks.
If you think you might have glandular fever, talk to your doctor.