Health Health Fitness

Glandular fever: Symptoms, treatment, causes and diagnosis

Fever is usually the first noticeable symptom of any disease. Fever is a response to our body’s immunity fighting the infection in our body. Fever is a rise in body temperature more than the normal temperature i.e. 98.6°F. This rise in temperature is due to certain infection.

Glandular fever is a special type of fever which is caused by a virus. The virus that causes this fever is called Epstein Barr virus. It generally affects people of younger age, mostly in teenage or childhood. This fever cures itself in a few weeks and needs treatment or medication in particular.

Common symptoms of Glandular fever

When we talk about fever, it’s actually confusing to find out if it is glandular fever or due to some other kind of infection. There are symptoms that help in to clear this confusion.

Some common symptoms are

  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Abdominal pain
  • Flu-like redness and weakness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Lethargy
  • Rashes and itchy skin
  • Lymph nodes swelling
  • Appendix enlargement
  • Liver issues
  • Nausea and loss of appetite

A sore throat can be easily confused with tonsillitis. It can also be mild in some cases but mostly it is severe, red and painful. Tonsillitis is swelling of tonsils due to flu. Tonsillitis lasts longer than the glandular fever. There is also pain and difficulty in swelling.

The swollen lymph glands are also so common and visible. The main reason is the lymph nodes act as a sieve to trap the foreign agents that infect our body. When there is an infection, the lymph nodes and the lymphatic system get activated to fight the foreign agent. This process results in swelling and inflammation of lymphatic nodes. The spleen is also enlarged. The rise in temperature is also a result of the body fighting through the agents.

The appendix is also observed to be swollen due to this disease in many cases. The appendix is not a very important part of our body. It is a reduced organ hence, in cases of complications it can be removed by minor surgery.

If the fever remains for longer duration there are chances that it will lead to liver issues. The liver can be inflamed. This may lead to diseases of the liver such as hepatitis. Hepatitis leads to jaundice. There is a change in skin color. The skin turns yellow and pale. There is nausea along with it. This is due to a pigment named as bile to be displaced from its normal location. Hepatitis needs medications and attention.


Glandular fever is usually seen in teenagers and adults. This is caused by the Epstein Barr virus. Epstein Barr virus does not always lead to glandular fever. It is also known as mononucleosis. When the virus enters the system, the body’s fight mechanism and immunity are activated. This leads to swelling of lymph organs and rises in body temperature which eventually leads to glandular fever. It usually lasts for 4-6 weeks. This fever has no cure. Antibiotics won’t work on it because it is caused by a virus. That is why it is important to take rest.

This disease is highly contagious at least for 7 weeks. The disease can be easily spread via coughing. The virus is dispersed in nature via air droplets and may enter the system of other individuals through inhalation.

The other ways of spread can be coming in contact with saliva. It is therefore also called kissing disease. It can also be spread through eating from common utensils. The patients need to be careful. The bed sheets and pillow covers must be washed and hygiene must be maintained at all the times to avoid the spread.

One out of every four adults who has Epstein Barr virus in their system will develop glandular fever. It is not seen much in later ages.

Other causes

There are a few more reasons that can cause glandular fever. One of them is cytomegalovirus. Cytomegalovirus can cause rubella or German measles. This virus is spread via body fluids. The symptoms are the same as fever caused by Epstein Barr virus.

One another cause is toxoplasmosis. This is an infection caused by Toxoplasma gondii parasite. This parasite can cause severe muscle weakness and body ache. It is spread from cat faeces which are infected by the virus.

Both of these infections are seriously harmful to pregnant women because it can directly affect the foetus. As both of these infections are spread via body fluids, it can easily pass through the placenta or breastfeed. In such cases, it is important to cure the disease with the help of antibodies or antibiotics.


There is no treatment for glandular fever which is caused by a virus. It is cured itself by the body in 4-6 weeks. Antibiotics don’t work on viruses at all. The only treatment for this fever is the rest.

  • Take appropriate rest for a suitable time period.
  • Take a good quantity of fluids to help the body recover faster.
  • Take a proper healthy diet.
  • Avoid overexertion.
  • Take proper sleep. It helps the body to heal.

It is recommended to start going out and keep working at a normal pace once you start feeling better and have the energy to work. This fever stays for a long duration that is why it is important to keep going along with it.


The diagnosis is usually done via symptoms. But in some cases, a blood sample may be required. A blood sample is sent for testing and culture. If there is the growth of the virus in the culture it is clearly visible and can be notified to the doctor and patient. It confirms the presence of the virus hence confirms the disease clearly in the patient.


To prevent glandular fever it is important to follow certain things such as

  • Washing hands after and before each meal
  • Using sanitizer and clean hands frequently
  • Use clean bedsheets and pillow cover
  • Avoid eating in the same utensils.
  • Cover your mouth while sneezing.


Glandular fever leads to a rise in temperature. It stays for 4-6 weeks. Longer duration of this fever leads to certain complications.

It may lead to anemia i.e. lower than normal amount of RBC. It is because of high temperature. The RBC’s die because of the temperature that they cannot bear. The production of new RBC’s is also compromised because of fever.

An infection like flu and pneumonia may develop. Pneumonia is a condition in which the lungs are filled with puss and excess mucus which causes a problem in breathing. There are painful throat, watery nose, and itchy eyes. These symptoms increase with the severity of the disease. There is also a chance of pleural effusion which is a condition in which the lungs are filled with watery- mucus substance. This is diagnosed with the help of X-RAY. Treatment is available for this disease.

Guillain Barre syndrome also known as Bell’s palsy is a neurological disorder. This disorder like every other neurological disorder leads to a problem in movement and functioning. The patient might start to forget certain things. There is a slugger speech.

This is not a serious illness if proper care and prevention to stop the spread are taken. It can be easily cured by the body itself in more than 80% of the cases. It rarely occurs more than one time in a lifetime.

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