Mononucleosis symptoms in children are notorious in deluding about the disease, as common cold or cough. Mononucleosis is a viral infection affecting almost all age groups with varying symptoms and signs. Mainly two viruses, belonging to herpes group of viruses, Ebstein Barr Virus (EBV) and Cytomegalovirus (CMV), cause mononucleosis.
While most of the cases of mononucleosis are cause by EBV, 15% of the cases of mononucleosis are due to CMV. It is well known in the medical world that mononucleosis has followed no boundaries in its spread over geographical regions. However, though mononucleosis affects all ages globally, its presentation is unique in certain age groups with modest overlap of signs and symptoms.
Mononucleosis is contagious disease and spreads through aerial route, hence is commonly caused due to coughing, sneezing, and kissing. Mononucleosis is an infection that is an indicator of hygiene. In underdeveloped countries, almost 90% of cases occur in children and adolescence, while in developed countries, it is usually noted in the young adults.
Mononucleosis symptoms in children develop due to spread from subclinical infections in adults, while adult-adult transmission is due to intimate contacts.
Mononucleosis, as mentioned above, shows varying signs and symptoms in different age groups. Mononucleosis symptoms in children usually go unnoticed or undiagnosed as mononucleosis, due to its atypical clinical presentation.
Similarly, mononucleosis symptoms in elderly too are atypical form of mononucleosis. Mononucleosis symptoms in adolescence and young adults typically present as infectious mononucleosis. Let’s see how atypical mononucleosis symptoms in children can lead to mistreatment.
Mononucleosis symptoms in children usually point to infectious pharyngitis along with symptoms of tonsillitis. Fever, sore throat, chills and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and below the jawline are the main signs and symptoms in children.
These symptoms are the same as the general symptoms of pharyngitis due to other causes. Along with these, difficulty in swallowing, foul breath, fever with chills, enlarged tonsils may accompany which are the signs of tonsillitis.
Pain during deglutition leads to decreased appetite making children more prone towards other infections. However, in a subset, mononucleosis may present with classical mononucleosis symptoms in children.
Classical mononucleosis symptoms in children include malaise, headache, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. On examination, physicians come across signs of pharyngitis including dryness in mouth, inflamed throat, plaques on tongue and palates, and enlarged tonsils with exudate (pus) deposits.
Sometimes the tonsils are too enlarged with exudates that they almost block the entry to the food canal. Other classical mononucleosis symptoms in children are enlarged lymph nodes, splenomegaly, sometimes hepatomegaly, and rashes on the body.
Some children may present with peri-orbital edema while others may complain of headache and muscle aches. These symptoms may be unnoticed by parents. However, headache and muscle aches with the absence of other symptoms are unlikely.
Mononucleosis, as with most viral “flu-like” infections can easily be treated and prevented. Mononucleosis symptoms in children can subside with appropriate hydration and Betadine gargling. Antibiotics to fight co-infection of the throat are recommended by some physicians. Avoiding over crowded areas to limit the spread of mononucleosis is advisable.