14 Feb Mono and strep
Mononucleosis (commonly referred to as mono) is a viral disease that is quite contagious and really knocks a punch. The symptoms of mono include fever, sore throat, swollen glands in the neck and throat area, and fatigue (the fever may go away in 10 days or so, but the fatigue can continue for a few months). You can have a loss of appetite and even a swollen spleen—your doctor checks for such symptoms to distinguish mono from other infections such as the flu and strep (see below). He can also run a test to make a positive determination. Because the spleen is swollen with mono, you must be careful not to engage in any physical activity that involves physical contact until cleared by your doctor as a blow to your spleen could have severe consequences.
Treat mono like you would the flu: as very contagious and something best dealt with through rest and fluids.
To prevent the spread of mono, do not share eating utensils, drinks, straws, etc. with people. Because mono is spread through saliva, watch out who you choose to kiss.
Strep throat is caused by a bacteria called streptococcal bacteria. Because a bacteria causes it, guess what? Yes, you can take antibiotics to treat it. That’s a good thing, because if left untreated, strep can spread to other parts of the body. This can become dangerous, so if you have:
- a severe sore throat
- a red throat, often with white patches
- difficulty swallowing
- swollen lymph glands
- headaches, nausea and vomiting
then go to the doctor and have your throat checked. This may include a swabbing of your throat to see if the bacteria in the back of your throat is streptococcal bacteria. If so, you will likely be given a course of antibiotics to help you get better.
And, yes, if you are sitting there thinking, “Wait! So many of these have similar symptoms! How can I tell what is what?”, think this: that’s what doctors are for! In general, if you have a fever (a temperature greater than 98.6—normal) that lasts for more than a few days, check in with an expert (i.e., not your buddy).
Have you ever had mono? Strep? Describe how it felt. What did you do about it?