Hepatitis is a complication that is caused by the Epstein-Barr (EBV) virus, which also causes mononucleosis, commonly referred to as mono. Mono-related hepatitis is generally mild and does not cause liver damage, except in rare cases. EBV is usually in the body for 30-50 days before the onset of symptoms.
The early symptoms of mono include feeling rundown, a loss of appetite and a slight headache. After three to five days, the victim will experience a relentless sore throat and fatigue, swollen glands, a fever, muscle aches and sometimes a skin rash. The spleen is often enlarged, and some liver enzyme changes might occur.
Mono can cause an inflammation of the liver, which is known as hepatitis. Mono and hepatitis occurs in one out of every 10 people. Hepatitis symptoms include liver inflammation; decreased appetite; jaundice of the skin and whites of the eyes; diarrhea, nausea or vomiting; right-side abdominal pain; and pale stool or dark urine.
It is best for one to wait between five to seven days before seeing a physician about a mono test, because it can take that long for the mono antibodies in the blood to reach detectable levels. Treatment for mono and hepatitis includes bed rest and pain reliever for fever and pains as well as adequate fluid intake. A balanced diet that is high in fruits and vegetables is also recommended. If the patient has an enlarged spleen, a doctor will give him or her a stool softener in order to avoid constipation. Antibiotics are avoided in treating mono and hepatitis, because they are ineffective.
People who develop mono and hepatitis might have to be hospitalized. This is the case if they experience too much vomiting and dehydration. Women who are taking birth control pills are taken off the medication until the mono and hepatitis subside.
About 15 percent of adolescents and adults who have mono will test negative for it because their bodies fail to produce the antibodies. If that happens, they can go to their health care provider to repeat the tests. Most people who get mono rebound within two weeks, although they have to limit or ban strenuous exercise because their spleen is still swollen. After a person has mono, his or her body will contain the antibodies for the rest of his or her life.
To prevent the spread of mono, it is recommended that people do not share eating or drinking utensils or a toothbrush. This is because direct contact with the virus can occur. People should also wash their hands before food preparation, before eating and after they use the restroom.