Patient information on Glandular Fever (Infectious Mononucleosis)
Who is this information for?
This information is for patients, families and carers following a diagnosis of glandular fever.
What is Glandular Fever?
Infectious mononucleosis is commonly known as glandular fever. It is a viral infection that is caused by
the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
Most people are exposed to EBV during childhood, although most infected young children do not
develop symptoms. Symptomatic infection is much more common in teenagers and young adults.
It usually lasts 3-4 weeks. Once infected you become immune and cannot be infected again.
The infection is spread via saliva by direct transfer (e.g. kissing) or by airborne droplet (e.g. sneezing).
Someone who has glandular fever can remain infectious to others for many months after symptoms
What are the symptoms of glandular fever?
The symptoms of glandular fever include fever, sore throat, lethargy, severe fatigue, headache, swollen
glands, rash, muscle pains, abdominal pain and nausea. These symptoms usually develop 4-6 weeks after
infection. Most people recover within 2 – 4 weeks. For some, significant tiredness lasts for weeks to
What is the treatment for Glandular Fever?
There is no specific treatment for this condition. In order to maximise recovery the following measures
- Ensure plenty of rest
- Relieve discomfort with the use of non-prescription analgesia as required (e.g.
Paracetamol/Ibuprofen) – ensure you closely follow the dosing instructions
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Avoid strenuous activity during the infection and for six weeks after the symptoms have settled
as the spleen may become enlarged and can be susceptible to injury. Contact sports must not
be played during the infection and for six weeks after.
- Avoid alcohol during and for six weeks after the infection, as the liver can become inflamed.
- When driving, be mindful to travel short distances as you may tire easily.
What can I do to reduce the chance of infecting others?
During the infection you should:
- Ensure good hygiene, especially with regular hand washing
- Avoid close contact with people (e.g. kissing)
- Avoid sharing drink containers and cutlery
- Do not use handkerchiefs – use tissues instead
- Carefully discard soiled tissues
When should I contact my doctor?
After a diagnosis of glandular fever, it is recommended that you contact your health professional if any
of the following symptoms develop:
- Abdominal pain
- Difficult breathing or difficulty swallowing fluids
- Chest infection
- Intolerance of light
Concerns or questions?
You can contact your ENT Specialist at the Melbourne ENT Group (MEG):
Your GP is also the best contact for ongoing care and concerns.