Friday, February 25, 2011

Mono and teens: More than just hype

Mono. For some adults, just hearing the word brings back parental warnings on the dangers of teen makeout sessions and straw sharing.

There’s a reason why many of us hear about mono, officially known as mononucleosis, during our teens: It’s more common in that age group. Most of us carry the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mono, and become infected with it at least once. However, the virus doesn’t usually cause symptoms or just seems like a cold. But in teens and young adults, the virus leads to infectious mono 35 percent to 50 percent of the time. Hence the warnings many of us remember from a younger age.

Symptoms of mono include fever, sore throat and swollen lymph glands. It’s spread by prolonged contact of saliva, such as kissing. Mono usually clears up in about one or two months, but at times it can last longer.

There’s no vaccine or cure for mono, but you can relieve the symptoms by drinking fluids, gargling with warm salt water to ease a sore throat, getting plenty of rest and taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain and fever.

To prevent catching mono, follow a few simple tips. Wash your hands frequently and avoid those who have the disease. Don’t share cups, utensils or straws with someone who is sick, and never share a toothbrush. And of course, never kiss someone who is sick.

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