If you're currently sluggishly plodding around, sleeping till all hours, and waking up with swollen glands and stiff muscles, you might be wondering what's up. And really, rightfully so. While many illnesses can cause such annoying symptoms, it could be you have the early signs of mono.
Mono, or infectious mononucleosis, is a virus that truly wipes you out. Also known as "the kissing disease" (since it's passed via saliva), it causes extreme fatigue, fever, and sore throat. Many people, however, don't realize they have mono — especially since it often feels like the common cold — and thus go running around for weeks trying to "push through."
Even if you know you have it, however, there's not much you can do. "[Mono is] caused by a virus rather than a bacteria, so antibiotics are not effective for its treatment," Dr. Mikhail "Doctor Mike" Varshavski, DO, tells Bustle. So the best thing to do is go to the doctor for a blood test.
It will likely reveal you have the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is one of the main causes of mono. Once you get a diagnosis, it's time to slow down and take care of yourself. Stay in bed, drink lots of fluids, and don't exert yourself. If you have any of the signs listed below, you should start to (slowly) feel a bit better.
1. You Feel Beyond Tired
While it's normal to occasionally feel tired, it's not as normal to feel exhausted — especially if you still feel rundown after a good night's sleep. As Dr. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MD, MS, tells Bustle, such an extreme sense of fatigue can be an early sign of mono. If a doctor confirms you have the virus, the best way to treat it is with naps, naps, and more naps.
2. Your Upper Left Abdomen Kind Of Hurts
Has your abdomen been feeling a bit sore? If so, Varshavski says it could be related to spleen or liver enlargement, which often swell (and occasionally even rupture) as a complication of the illness. "This is why it is advised to stay out of contact sports/hobbies," he says, "for at least four weeks after symptoms begin." So let the Netflix spree (or gentle walks, or yoga) commence.
3. It Hurts To Swallow Because Your Throat Is Sore
While a sore throat can be a sign of the common cold, it can also be an early symptom of mono, Varshavski says. If your throat appears to be red, or it feels painful to swallow, go see your doctor to find out for sure.
They can test to see if the pain is due to strep throat, a cold, or mono, and set you on the correct course of treatment.
4. The Lymph Nodes In Your Neck Feel Swollen
How's the rest of that neck of yours? As Okeke-Igbokwe says, you might also notice the lymph nodes around your throat are swollen. Or that it hurts if you gently press in that area. As your body tries to fight off the infection, these glands will swell — and it can be pretty darn painful.
5. You Have A High Fever
If you've been shivering away in bed, it might be due to a flu or cold. But it could also be a sign of mono — especially if your fever is particularly high. Typically, with mono your fever may range from 101°F to 104°F, which can lead to an awful case of the chills.
6. There's A Weird Rash Forming On Your Skin
Mono can cause a red measles-like rash in about five percent of sufferers. So if you spot one forming, call your doctor. And remember that some things can make it worse. As Varshavski says, "[It's] important to note if you get antibiotics, specifically amoxicillin while infected with mono, it's possible to break out with a worse whole body rash."
7. You Head And Body Are Aching
Mono can make you feel pretty rundown in other ways, too. Varshavski says it can crop up in the form of fatigue, but also body aches and headaches. Combine that all together, and you may find yourself lying on the couch, or unable to get out of bed.
8. You Don't Really Feel Like Eating
Loss of appetite is one of the main symptoms of mono, according to health writer Shannon Marks on Livestrong.com. Aside from feeling too tired to eat, your "sore throat, swollen neck glands, fever, and weakness in the early stages of the infection can make eating difficult," she said. While you don't have to chow down, do make sure you drink plenty of fluids.
9. You Just Don't Feel "Well"
There might not be any one symptom that's easy to pinpoint, but you can say without a doubt that you don't feel "well." This general discomfort, uneasiness, or ill-feeling can be an early sign, according to health writer Carolyn Sayre in The New York Times.
10. Your Muscles Feel Stiff
While we're listing crappy symptoms, let's go ahead and add muscle soreness to the list, too. According to Sayre, stiffness is one of the more common symptoms of the virus. Besides being annoying to deal with, it should also tip you off that it's time to hit up the doctor.
11. You Don't Have Any Symptoms At All
It's possible to have mono and not even know it, Varshavski says. This is especially true in mild cases where symptoms don't show up, despite the fact you are infected with the illness. In this case, you might go about your day without realizing you have disease — unless you happen to get a blood test, such as during a routine exam.
But if your symptoms are annoying, or you feel like total crap, don't be afraid to go to the doctor. A simple blood test can reveal whether or not you have mono. And if you do, you can start in on your new, leisurely lifestyle until you feel better.