The short answer to the question “can you get mono twice” is that you are unlikely to get a mono infection more than once in your lifetime, however, there have been cases even though quite rare where people got reinfected with mononucleosis years after a previous infection.
The first infection with mononucleosis leads to a build-up of a strong immunity against the virus known to cause mono and this prevents you from getting infected with mononucleosis for as long as your immune system remains strong.
In order to understand the reason why you may not get a mono-infection twice, and why some people are prone to getting mono twice, let’s discuss what mononucleosis is, the causes, symptoms, how it is diagnosed and how to manage it.
What is Mononucleosis (Mono)?
Mononucleosis, often known as infectious mononucleosis, is a collection of symptoms produced by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It is most common in teenagers, but it can strike anyone at any age. Because the virus is communicated through saliva, it is also known as the “kissing disease.”
After the age of one, many people become infected with EBV. Symptoms in very young children are frequently absent or so mild and can be misdiagnosed as mono. You’re unlikely to have another EBV infection once you’ve had one.
Any child who has EBV will very certainly be mono-immune for the rest of their lives.
Symptoms normally develop 4–6 weeks after the virus is contracted. Because of the long incubation time, it is possible to spread mono to another individual.
The disease-causing viruses are conveyed by bodily fluids, with saliva transmission being the most prevalent. The virus can also be passed from one person to another via blood or sperm.
Even after a person’s symptoms have subsided, they might still spread EBV. According to studies, a person’s saliva can contain the virus for up to 6 months after the commencement of their sickness.
Symptoms of mono
A high fever, swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits, and a scratchy throat are common symptoms of mono. The majority of cases of mono are mild and respond well to therapy. In most cases, the infection is not serious and will go away on its own in 1 to 2 months.
Mono symptoms differ from individual to person. The following are some examples of typical indicators:
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
Mono can result in extreme exhaustion. Other signs and symptoms include:
- Body aches
- Rashes on the skin
- Loss of appetite
- Lesions on the inside of the mouth
An enlarged liver or spleen is a less common complication. A blood test may reveal increased liver enzymes or other abnormal indicators in some people. Mono can be difficult to identify from other viruses, such as the flu.
Consult your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after 1 or 2 weeks of at-home treatment, such as relaxing, drinking plenty of water, and eating healthy meals.
Causes of mono
EBV is the most common cause of mononucleosis. Direct contact with saliva from an infected person’s mouth or other bodily fluids, such as blood, is how the virus spreads. Sexual contact and organ transplantation are further ways for it to spread.
A cough or sneeze, kissing, or sharing food or drinks with someone who has mono can all expose you to the virus. After you’ve been infected, it normally takes 4 to 8 weeks for symptoms to appear.
In teenagers and adults, the infection might go undetected for long periods of time. The virus usually causes no symptoms in youngsters, and the infection passes unnoticed.
EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus) belongs to the herpes virus family. It’s one of the most prevalent viruses that infect humans around the world, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control).
It remains inactive in your body for the remainder of your life once you’ve been infected. It can be reawakened in rare circumstances, but there are normally no symptoms.
Experts are looking into probable links between EBV and disorders like cancer and autoimmune diseases, in addition to its connection with mono.
Period of mono incubation
The time between contracting the infection and developing symptoms is known as the virus’s incubation period. It lasts between 4 and 6 weeks. Mono’s indications and symptoms usually continue for one to two months.
In young children, the incubation period may be shorter. Some symptoms, such as a sore throat and a fever, usually go away within a week or two. Swollen lymph nodes, tiredness, and an enlarged spleen may persist for a few weeks longer.
Can you get mono twice?
When a person gets mono from a virus, such as EBV, the symptoms usually go away and they don’t get it again. This is due to the fact that EBV, the common mono virus, remains in the body. It remains inactive, which means it can’t cause the circumstance to happen again.
Antibodies against the virus are produced by the body throughout a person’s life, providing immunity. Even if the infection resurfaces, there will most likely be no symptoms.
It is possible, however, to get mono twice. In other circumstances, a person’s symptoms may be gone for a while before worsening. This could be owing to the fact that the symptoms of the initial disease are still present.
If the virus reactivates within the body, those with weaker immune systems are more likely to have mono twice.
Mono can, in rare situations, progress to chronic active Epstein-Barr (cEBV) disease, which is a recurrent infection. This rare sickness can create long-term symptoms that necessitate treatment on a regular basis.
How does mono come back?
Mono is caused by an infection with the Epstein-Barr virus in the majority of cases (EBV). EBV travels from person to person by saliva and other bodily fluids, which is why mono is known as the “kissing disease.”
EBV is a virus that stays in your body for the rest of your life once you’ve contracted it. The virus stays in your immune cells and tissues.
Your doctor can detect the virus by looking for antibodies in your blood, but the infection is generally latent. This means that you are unlikely to develop symptoms after your initial exposure to the virus.
In patients with a weaker immune system, the virus may be more prone to reactivate and cause symptoms. This includes those who:
- Have had an organ transplant
- Are pregnant
- Have HIV or AIDS
It’s also possible to contract another type of mono, such as cytomegalovirus, which is caused by a separate virus (CMV). Even if you have EBV, you can get mono from another virus.
If your immune system is impaired, you’re more likely to have a recurrence.
Is mono contagious?
Mono is contagious, although experts aren’t really sure how long this period lasts. Because EBV is shed in your throat, anyone who comes in touch with your saliva, such as by kissing or sharing eating utensils, can become infected.
You may not even realize you have mono because of the long incubation period.
Mono can be contagious for up to three months after you’ve had symptoms.
Risk factors of mono
Mono is more likely to affect the following groups:
- Medical interns
- People who take medications that suppress the immune system
- Mono is more likely to affect persons who come into close touch with a big number of people on a frequent basis.
Diagnosis of mono
To help doctors diagnose a mono infection, any of the following tests may be requested.
When you go to the doctor, they’ll usually ask how long you’ve been experiencing symptoms. If you’re between the ages of 15 and 25, your doctor may additionally inquire as to whether you’ve come into touch with somebody who has mono.
Along with the most frequent symptoms of fever, sore throat, and swollen glands, age is one of the most important factors in diagnosing mono.
Your doctor will check the glands in your neck, armpits, and groin, as well as assess your temperature. They may also examine the upper left portion of your stomach to see if your spleen is enlarging.
The monospot test
The second part of a doctor’s diagnosis is lab tests. The monospot test is one of the most reliable procedures to identify mononucleosis (or heterophile test). Antibodies are proteins produced by your immune system in response to dangerous components, and this blood test looks for them.
When this test is performed between 2 and 4 weeks after the onset of mono symptoms, the results are the most consistent. You should have enough heterophile antibodies at this point to provide a consistently positive response.
It does not, however, look for EBV antibodies. Instead, when you’re infected with EBV, the monospot test detects your levels of another group of antibodies your body is likely to create. Heterophile antibodies are what they’re called.
EBV antibody test
Your doctor may arrange an EBV antibody test if your monospot test is negative. This blood test tests for antibodies to EBV. This test can diagnose mono as early as the first week of symptoms, but the findings take longer to get back.
Complete blood count
A full blood count may be requested by your doctor on some occasions. By examining the quantities of various blood cells, this blood test can assist identify the severity of your condition. A high lymphocyte count, for example, frequently suggests infection.
Count of white blood cells
In order to defend itself, your body produces extra white blood cells when you have a mono infection. Although a high white blood cell count does not rule out the possibility of EBV infection, the result shows that it is a substantial likelihood.
People who are concerned about their chance of getting mono or its symptoms can take some easy precautions to avoid coming into contact with virus-infected bodily fluids as much as possible, such as:
- Handwashing on a regular basis
- Eliminating common goods such as cups and utensils
- Disinfecting shared objects or surfaces
- Lip balms and lipsticks are examples of personal products that should not be shared.
- Kissing or sharing saliva with somebody who may have mono is not a good idea.
- Avoiding unprotected intercourse with someone who could be suffering from mono
Many situations will not necessitate medical intervention. Symptoms of mono normally fade with time, and most people recover in 2–4 weeks. Some people, however, may require extra time to recuperate if their symptoms linger longer than six months.
While it is possible to get mono twice, most people develop lifelong protection and the virus remains dormant in the body.
Mono can strike people with weakened immune systems twice. Other illnesses and disorders might also cause similar symptoms. People who experience recurrent mono symptoms should contact a doctor or healthcare practitioner for a complete diagnosis.