Glandular fever can affect anyone but it is particularly common amongst teenagers. Glandular fever is commonly caused by the EBV (Epstein – Barr virus), a virus that infects the majority of people at some point in their lives. Usually EBV infections occur in childhood and the virus then lays dormant until something triggers another infection; in teenagers and adults this infection usually presents as glandular fever. Glandular fever is contagious and it can be easily and quickly spread by saliva droplets released by coughing or sneezing, sharing glasses or bottles with an infected person or kissing an infected person. You may be contagious for up to 18 months after the infection but it is rare to develop the condition more than once in a lifetime, as the body generates antibodies to fight the infection.
Symptoms of glandular fever
Symptoms usually take a while to develop after the initial infection; common symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Inflamed tonsils
- Inflamed lymph nodes (especially in the neck and armpits)
- Loss of appetite
- Rash on the surface of the skin
- Inflamed spleen
While fever-like symptoms will usually wear off after a couple of weeks, some symptoms may last for several months. In rare cases, glandular fever may affect the liver but this is more common in adults over the age of 30.