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"How does illness affect adolescents?"


My adolescent daughter (16 years old) has been bedridden with a case of mono for almost a week. I know illnesses can have more serious long-term effects for young people - is there a chance that having an illness this severe at her age could cause some kind of serious developmental issues?


Mononucleosis is an infection with the Epstein Barr Virus. The infection usually causes fatigue, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, a very red and swollen sore throat, and sometimes a large spleen. Mono can only be diagnosed by a physician observing one of the symptoms such as the sore throat (that is shown not to be strep throat), and a positive blood test for an immune reaction to the virus.

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Some patients report a period of fatigue that slowly improved after the infection. In the past it was felt that EBV infection may have been responsible for chronic fatigue syndrome, but this association has been shown to be false. For the most part, people that get infectious mononucleosis recover completely with the occasional re-activation later in life. There are no serious developmental issues directly associated with an EBV infection. Contact sports should be avoided to prevent injury to the enlarged spleen. If her infection follows the normal course, she should recover fully. With that said, I do think you should schedule an appointment for her to see her primary care physician. It useful to get a physical exam and be sure that nothing else is going on. Be sure you daughter avoids all contact sports for the next few months per her doctors recommendations. Good luck.

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