11 Silent Signs of Mono You Shouldn’t Ignore

The virus responsible for infectious mononucleosis (commonly known as mono) affects about 90 percent of the population worldwide, and most commonly strikes teenagers and young adults ages 15 to 30. Knowing what symptoms to look for can help catch the virus—and put you on the path to recovery—sooner.

Sore throat

Woman has sore throatCHAjAMP/Shutterstock

If you have a sore throat, swollen tonsils, or swollen lymph nodes, especially on the sides of the neck, these could be mono symptoms. Ask your doctor to test for mono in addition to strep throat. "Many people have the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)—the main viral cause of mononucleosis—in their system throughout their lives, but we can only tell through a blood test," says Robert I. Danoff, DL, an osteopathic family medicine physician and program director of The Family Medicine Residency and Family Medicine/Emergency Medicine Residency programs at Aria-Jefferson Health in Philadelphia. These sore throat home remedies work for people with mono or other sore throat causes.

A rash

ill allergic rash dermatitis eczema skin of patientpumatokoh/Shutterstock

One of the first signs of mono is if you develop a rash after taking an antibiotic commonly used to treat a sore throat, such as amoxicillin or ampicillin. "These antibiotics are used when a bacterial cause of a sore throat is suspected, prior to the healthcare provider knowing that mono is present. The rash is not an allergic reaction," says Dr. Danoff.

Someone you've kissed is sick

A red mark of a lipstick on a glass.AdamBoor/Shutterstock

Mono is called the "kissing disease" because it's so easily and frequently spread through saliva (though it can also spread through blood or semen). While you can also pick it up by sharing cups or utensils, an easy clue that you might have more than a common cold is if you and someone you've intimately kissed have similar mono symptoms for a prolonged period of time. "It is difficult to prevent spreading mono because once a person has been infected with the EBV virus they can continue to shed it at various times throughout their life," says Kim Alt, MD, of Rockford Pediatrics in Rockford, Michigan.

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