Epstein Barr Virus Symptoms: Its Causes, Treatment And Prevention

Epstein Barr virus is a common virus which is known to cause infectious mononucleosis and rare diseases such as Burkitt Lymphoma. At least 90% of people may have been affected with this virus sometime in their life. Not all the affected individual produce symptoms. Some people remain carrier for rest of their life.

Infection with EBV (Epstein Barr virus) usually occurs in childhood and during adolescent years. In infectious mononucleosis patient complains of fever, throat pain, swelling of lymph glands in the neck, and seldom enlarged spleen and liver.

Most of the time, the symptoms caused by EBV are mild and self healing.

Once infected the virus remains in the body for lifetime. The person can carry it in his saliva. Meaning he becomes a carrier and spread the virus to others who come in contact with his saliva. Intimate kissing and sharing of drinking glasses can spread the disease from the infected person to a healthy person.

Currently there is no specific treatment available to kill the virus. Symptomatic treatment consists of rest, proper fluid intake and pain relieving medicine.

What Causes Epstein Barr Virus?

Epstein Barr virus is related to herpes virus family. It is a contagious virus.

Due to its presence in saliva, it spreads through intimate kissing, sharing of drinking glasses etc. For this reason infectious mononucleosis which is caused by EBV is also called ‘Kissing disease’.

People of any age group can be afflicted by EBV. Population at large may have come in contact with this virus sometime or the other. But the infection in maximum people may not be noticed or may be very mild. It may get cured on its own within few days.

However, there are number of triggers that may increase the risk. Any activities which expose the non infected person with the saliva of an infected individual may lead to EBV infection. The carriers may not be ill, but they may spread the disease through their saliva. Following are the risk factors.

  • Intimate kissing.
  • Sharing of drinking glasses, unwashed water bottles, sharing of dinning utensils, toothbrush, mouthwash, lip balm, etc.
  • Person having low immunity.

Symptoms Of Epstein Barr Virus

One of the most common diseases caused by Epstein Barr virus is infectious mononucleosis. It takes 4 to 6 weeks for the virus to manifest its symptom, once it enters the body of a healthy individual. Children usually remain asymptomatic. Most of the symptoms in young adults are similar to cold and flu. They are usually mild.

  • Cough
  • Throat pain
  • Fever
  • Body ache
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Running nose
  • Swelling in tonsils
  • Pain in lymph nodes around the neck, groin and armpits
  • Rash

Liver and spleen are swollen in half of the patient afflicted with infectious mononucleosis.

Meningitis and encephalitis are rare complications of EBV infection.

How To Prevent Epstein Barr Virus?

Since large population at sometime or the other comes in contact with Epstein Barr virus, it is extremely difficult to prevent its spread. Besides, there are many people who become carrier throughout their life, even without knowing. They may carry the virus in their saliva once they are cured. However few preventive measures can be taken.

  • Avoid sharing and drinking unwashed glasses and bottles.
  • Avoid sharing toothbrushes.
  • Avoid intimate kissing.
  • Refrain from donating blood for 6 months after you have suffered from a bout of infectious mononucleosis.
  • Do not donate blood after suffering from hepatitis caused due to Epstein Barr virus.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap when you are taking care of person suffering from infectious mononucleosis.
  • Eat healthy food and increase your immune system.

Treatment For Epstein Barr Virus Infection

Till now researchers are not able to develop curative treatment for Epstein Barr virus infection. Curative measures are aimed at reducing the symptoms and make the patient comfortable for quick recovery from the disease caused by EBV.

Conventional treatment includes:

  • Pain killers for relieving throat pain, body ache, headache etc.
  • Antipyretic medicine to reduce fever.
  • Rest and sleep helps in faster recuperation.
  • Patient is encouraged to drink enough fluids. It helps to keep the body hydrated.
  • Antibiotics are sometimes necessary if there is risk of secondary infection.
  • Chicken soup is believed to be effective in relieving the nasal congestion and throat pain caused in infectious mononucleosis due to EBV. It also gives extra strength to the body.
  • Vitamin C is beneficial in recovery. Eat fruits and vegetable containing vitamin C.