Infectious Mononucleosis (cont.)

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What are the complications of mono?

A common, but usually not serious, complication of mono is a mild inflammation of the liver, or hepatitis. This form of hepatitis is rarely serious or requires treatment. It generally resolves on its own as the condition improves. The enlargement of the spleen that occurs with mono makes traumatic rupture of the spleen a possible complication. Swelling of the throat and tonsils can also lead to airway obstruction when severe. Infection in the area of the tonsil can rarely be a serious abscess referred to as a peritonsillar abscess. Another rare complication is swelling of the throat to an extent that breathing is obstructed.

Fortunately, the more severe complications of mono are quite rare, and mono is very rarely fatal in healthy people. The rare severe complications include destruction of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia) and inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart (pericarditis), the heart muscle itself (myocarditis), and the brain (encephalitis). Mono tends to be more aggressive in patients with abnormal immune systems, such as people with AIDS or those who are taking medications that suppress immune function.

The EBV has been associated with some types of cancers, most commonly lymphomas. This occurs most frequently in people whose immune systems have been compromised due to disease or immune suppressive drugs. EBV infection has also been found to be associated with two types of cancer found in other cultures -- nasopharyngeal carcinoma (cancer of the pharynx and nose) in southern China and Burkitt's lymphoma of the jaw among children in equatorial Africa. Further, numerous studies have also found that EBV infection is associated with the development of at least one subtype of Hodgkin's disease. However, since the vast majority of people have been infected with EBV and never develop these types of tumors, EBV infection cannot be the sole cause of these cancers. The overwhelming majority of people who have had mono recover completely without any serious complications.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/25/2013

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Infectious Mononucleosis (Mono) - Symptoms Question: For infectious mononucleosis (mono), what were the symptoms and signs you experienced?
Infectious Mononucleosis (Mono) - Treatments Question: What was the treatment for your mononucleosis?
Infectious Mononucleosis (Mono) - Causes Question: Most cases of mononucleosis occur in the 15-24 age group. How did you or your child "catch" mono?
Infectious Mononucleosis (Mono) - Children Question: Did your child have mononucleosis? Please share your family's experience.

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