Glandular fever is an infectious disease caused by a virus. This virus is also known as the Epstein-Barr virus. Everyone gets infected with this virus at some point. Most people won’t experience any specific symptoms when they’re infected, but will simply be carriers. This will allow them to transfer the virus to someone else. Young people up to the age of 25 are more susceptible to the virus. They can feel very unwell if they get glandular fever. You won’t be able to get the disease again once you’ve been infected and/or had the disease. This is because your body has then produced sufficient antibodies against the virus.
You will have glandular fever when you:
- Suffer from swollen and painful lymph nodes in your neck.
- Have swollen glands all over your body. This can sometimes happen.
- Suffer from a fever.
- Suffer from a sore throat.
- Have the above complaints for more than 10 days.
In addition to these complaints, haematoma can be seen on your palate and there may be a blotchy layer of mucus across your tonsils. You may also suffer from:
- A tender or enlarged liver.
- An exhausted feeling.
- A headache.
- Profuse sweating.
- A skin rash (in young children).
It’s impossible to say with certainty how long it will take for you to recover. The initial complaints will last around 5 to 8 weeks, but you can also suffer from them for longer. The fatigue often lasts the longest. It can sometimes take up to three months to get rid of this. Glandular fever usually has no serious consequences.
It’s particularly important for you to continue doing your normal daily activities as much as possible when you have glandular fever. Extra sleep or rest won’t help. We also recommend maintaining a normal and healthy diet. A special diet is not necessary. In order not to infect other people you can:
- Avoid kissing.
- Use your own cutlery, plates and cups.
- Use your own towels.
Following these measures is not essential, as almost everyone has had the virus at some point in time and subsequently becomes immune to it. That’s your own personal choice. However, kissing has been proven to carry a higher risk of infection. We would therefore recommend being careful with this.
There is no medication which can help with glandular fever. Plus no vaccine has been developed as yet. You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen for a possible sore throat and headache. Read the package leaflet carefully for the correct dosage and use of these painkillers.
An extra check-up is almost never necessary after the initial blood test. Glandular fever will go away on its own. Plus extra blood tests will rarely show anything while you may still feel unwell. We recommend you contact your GP if:
- You want to be tested for glandular fever. This is done through a blood test.
- You are worried.
- You’re suffering from different and additional complaints.
- The fatigue is lasting for a very long time. There may be a different reason for this.