Heath Matters: Kissing Disease

strachans copy2Graham Hibbins, a pharmacist at Strachan’s Chemist in Uppermill, looks at glandular fever.

Find Strachan’s Chemist on New Street in Uppermill, or call them on 01457 820228.

graham hibbins
Graham Hibbins

With Valentine’s Day this month, I feel it is prudent to discuss the “kissing disease” – glandular fever.

Infectious mononucleosis, as it is known by the medical profession, is a virus found in the saliva of infected people, hence can be spread by kissing, exposure to coughs and sneezes, or even sharing infected eating and drinking utensils such as cups, glasses or unwashed cutlery, or a toothbrush.

Most people are usually infected in early childhood, probably by putting infected toys, dummies or blankets in their mouth, but fortunately at that age the symptoms are usually mild and probably passed off as another childhood infection.

However, teenagers and young adults can develop quite severe symptoms. It is usually passed on by someone that might be unaware they have the virus, known as asymptomatic carriers, or someone that has had the virus and is now better, but unaware it can still be in the saliva months later.

The most common symptoms are flu-like such as a fever, sore throat, swollen glands and extreme tiredness. Unsurprisingly there is a loss of appetite, aching muscles and a sense of feeling really unwell.

As it is a virus, antibiotics don’t work and there is no cure, but most symptoms usually pass in a couple of weeks.

It’s important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration – have small sips or ice cubes if swallowing is difficult.

Also take regular pain killers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (available in liquid or soluble forms if swallowing is difficult), and get plenty of rest.

If it is really severe, throat sprays might help and your doctor can prescribe steroids in extreme cases.

The good news is once you’ve had glandular fever it’s unlikely to reoccur because your antibodies will develop lifelong immunity. Just be careful kissing someone for a few months – a peck on the cheek is fine – and don’t share that glass of wine and romantic meal!

Next month, I’m going to discuss something else that can be spread by kissing!


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