Infectious Mononucleosis (Mono) and CFS: Not Just a “Kissing Disease” Anymore

young couple outdoor in the fall


Infectious Mononucleosis, also called Mono or “The Kissing Disease,” because in years past, it was most commonly seen in teenagers and college students who had contracted the illness after intimate contact with their romantic partners. Today, Infectious Mononucleosis is appearing more frequently in adults and resulting in more serious consequences.

Infectious Mononucleosis is mainly attributed to the Epstein-Barr virus. Although in some cases Cytomegalovirus (also called CMV) can be responsible. The Epstein-Barr virus is in the herpes family of viruses and is mainly known for causing the acute debilitating viral illness that stops young people dead in their tracks.


· a severe sore throat

· swollen glands

· eyelid puffiness

· extreme fatigue (it is not uncommon for affected individuals to sleep 14 to 16 hours a day).

The usual course of recovery in these young patients is 4 to 6 weeks with a lot of rest and tender-loving care by their parents. After the recovery is complete and a person should build lasting immunity and usually never has to worry about developing “Mono” again.

For adults that contract Infectious Mononucleosis, the course of illness can be more complicated. In my clinical experience, adults don’t present as dramatically as these high energy kids do. An active teenager who all of a sudden just wants to sleep is a clear case, however an adult who is putting in their 40 hour or more work week and just finds themselves recuperating on the couch all weekend may not suspect they are ill. Adults may not present with classic symptoms such as a sore throat or very swollen glands. Fatigue and stomach problems may be the only findings.


I remember reading the story about Roger Federer, the tennis champion who was hospitalized with severe stomach pains, and initially it was thought he had food poisoning, but further diagnostic tests showed he had Mono. There have been several other top flight tennis players and other professional athletes that have been diagnosed with Mono. How is it possible that these athletes in top flight condition can develop Mono? My medical experience would point to the fact these athletes are travelling a lot, eating in different venues and under a lot of stress. This is the perfect storm for a virus like Epstien-Barr to take hold.

Many of us have been exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus and other herpes viruses, but we don’t develop a clinical illness unless our bodies are immunologically depressed at the time, or the viral exposure is overwhelming.

The bigger problem with adults that contract Mono and don’t even know it, is that they continue to work and run their body down. The infection stresses the rest of the body and the fatigue becomes more pronounced over time.

I have diagnosed two cases in the past month of adults who developed Mono. Unfortunately, an adult’s work and life schedule makes it hard to rest the way a teenager can.


  • A good, healthy diet with lots of green vegetables and orange and yellow fruits to obtain high dose Vitamin C.
  • 9 hours of sleep per night during the week, and even a little more than 9 hours on the weekend, because sleep restores the body’s immune system.
  • Limited exercise: just walking or stretching until you feel your energy increasing.
  • A prescription from MMG for oral vitamins and injections that include B-complex and anti-oxidants to re-vitalize the body’s metabolism. We also offer Gamma globulin, immunological antibodies, to aid the body’s defense in combating viruses. And in some cases, we offer Vitamin C intravenously to really boost a patient’s immune system.

Epstein-Barr is one of many viruses that can causeChronic Fatigue, and at Mitchell Medical Group we delve into your medical history to help make the correct diagnosis and offertreatments to get you back on your feet.

Dr. Dean Mitchell
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC & Long Island

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