Glandular fever is a viral infection that mostly affects teenagers and young adults. The virus that causes glandular fever is called Epstein-Barr virus. Glandular fever is an infectious disease which mainly spreads through close contact, especially kissing. This is why it is also called ‘kissing disease’. The virus is present in saliva. Transmission of virus can also occur via sneezing, coughing and sharing articles such as cups and drinking glasses.
Symptoms develop after 30 to 50 days once the virus enters into the body. The disease is gradual in onset and person initially feels weakness and tiredness.This is followed by sore throat, fever, swelling of neck glands, body rash etc. There is no specific treatment for glandular fever as it is caused by virus infection. Patient usually recovers from the illness without any complications. Treatment mainly consists plenty of rest, enough water to prevent dehydration. Patient must avoid close contact with people to avoid spread of disease.
Causes Of Glandular Fever In Adults
Glandular fever is caused by a virus called Epstein-Barr virus. This virus belongs to the family of herpes virus. The virus is present in saliva and sometimes in genital secretions.The most likely mode of transmission of virus is through oral transfer of saliva. The infected person can spread the virus via kissing. Thus the disease is also referred as kissing disease. Other mode of spread are sneezing, coughing, sharing common utensils, cups, glasses, and other cutlery items.
The virus stays for long duration may be for several months even after the symptoms have subsided. Patient after recovery can still transmit the virus through close contact. Thus he must avoid kissing others or share any common items.
Glandular fever generally occurs in teenagers and young adults. It is rare occurrence in children. Even if they are infected the symptoms are extremely mild. Once a person suffers from glandular fever, it does not recur again because the body develops permanent immunity after the infection.
Glandular Fever Symptoms In Adults
Symptoms may take almost six weeks after the Epstein-Barr virus enters into the body of an adult. Symptoms at first are generally mild and vague. This may include mild body ache, tiredness, etc. In adults the symptoms are more severe. The symptoms of glandular fever often linger on for several weeks and even months.
Most common symptoms are as follows:
- Loss of appetite
- Throat pain
- High fever
- Rash on body
- Puffy swelling around the eyes.
- Swollen lymph nodes in neck. They are tender to touch.
- Pain in abdomen due to swelling in spleen. Enlarged spleen is usually not a problem and over a period of time it subsides. But there is slight risk for rupture of spleen.
Diagnosis And Treatment Of Glandular Fever
There is symptom similarity between glandular fever and several other viral fevers. Hence it can become difficult to diagnose glandular fever simply by examination. However, tender lymph nodes in neck, swollen and white patchy tonsils, sore throat, fever, may indicate of glandular fever, but to confirm the diagnosis the doctor may recommend to do blood test. This test helps to check presence of Epstein-Barr virus.
Glandular fever is a viral infection. There is no specific treatment for this disease. Usually the symptoms resolve over a period of time. But in glandular fever the symptoms may take slightly longer period to resolve. Antibiotics are usually not given to the patient as they do not have any effect on virus. But they may be necessary if the doctor suspects secondary bacterial infection.
Simple home measures include:
- Warm salt water gargling to alleviate pain in throat. This can be done few times in a day.
- Person must drink plenty of fluid to prevent dehydration.
- Cold sponging to reduce fever.
- Gentle massage with coconut or olive oil to reduce body ache.
Even after the symptoms have resolved, patient may feel unwell and tired for 2 to 3 weeks after recovery. The swollen lymph nodes persist for several weeks.