Glandular Fever Infection

Updated July 19, 2017

Glandular fever is a viral illness that has a variety of causes and can last up to several weeks. As a viral infection there is no medication to take that will kill the infection. Time is the best course of action as well as seeing your doctor to confirm the condition.

What is Glandular Fever?

Glandular fever is also known as mononucleosis and the Epstein Barr virus. It is a contagious infection caused by a virus in the herpes family. It is most commonly seen in 15- to 17-year-olds, although it can be contracted at any age. According to the National Center for Infectious Diseases, 95 per cent of 35- to 40-year-old adults have previously been infected with the disease. Typically when younger children contract the illness, the symptoms are not as severe. The incubation period for the infection is four to six weeks, although symptoms can continue for months.

Causes of Glandular Fever

Glandular fever is caused by contact with an infected person. The virus is spread by close contact through saliva including kissing, and sharing of utensils or cups. It can also be spread through saliva droplets of an infected person coughing or sneezing near you.

Symptoms of Glandular Fever

Symptoms of glandular fever vary from person to person. Common symptoms range from exhaustion, fever, loss of appetite, rash, sore throat, swollen glands, swollen spleen, chills and night sweats. Less common symptoms include chest pain, cough, headache, hives, jaundice, rapid heartbeat, sensitivity to light and shortness of breath.

Testing for Glandular Fever

If you are experiencing symptoms of glandular fever, your doctor will perform a thorough exam checking for swollen glands and spleen as well as other symptoms to rule out other illnesses. In addition, you will have blood drawn to check your white blood cell count, and a monospot, which confirms the illness. If your doctor suspects that you may have had glandular fever in the past you may have another blood test called an antibody which can distinguish past glandular fever from a current infection.


Since glandular fever is caused by a virus, treatments are aimed at relieving the symptoms. To help relieve discomfort, you should drink plenty of fluids and gargle with salt water. For pain relief you can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You may be given an antibiotic if you have a secondary bacterial infection such as strep throat.

The prognosis for glandular fever is good. According to Medlinenet, the fever typically lasts approximately ten days, the swollen glands and spleen last for four to six weeks, and the exhaustion may last for months.

Possible Complications

Complications from glandular fever are rare but may include ruptured spleen, anaemia, bacterial throat infection, Bell's palsy, seizures, meningitis, Guillain Barre Syndrome, hepatitis, hemolytic anaemia and death.

When You Should Call Your Doctor

Once diagnosed with glandular fever, any new symptoms should be reported to your doctor as this could be a complication of the illness.

If you are having abdominal pain, fever higher that 38.6 degrees C, severe headache, sore throat, yellow skin or weakness in your arms or legs, you should contact your physician.

You should go to the nearest emergency room if you are having difficulty breathing, severe weakness, sharp abdominal pains or a stiff neck.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article


About the Author

Michele A. Clarke has been a writer for over 30 years. She enjoys writing articles on health care. She has a bachelors degree from the University of Albany in Biology and Sociology. She has worked for many years as a grant writer and health care consultant. Michele has written a wide variety of e-books and is working on her first novel.