Not only is mononucleosis, or mono, most seen in teenagers and young people, but it can also be an exceptionally distressing virus for them to cope with, physically and emotionally. The viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) often leads to severe fatigue, extended illness, disrupted routines and missed school days — even whole terms of school may be missed in some cases, depending on the severity and length of the illness.
Understanding how to manage mono in teens and support their whole-person healing is key to their recovery. We’re here to help you help your teen navigate their journey toward healing and regain their spunk as they recover from mono.
Mono Symptoms in Teens
Recognizing the symptoms of mono in teens is important — the sooner they get a diagnosis, the quicker you can help them get the right care and on the path to recovery. Common signs and symptoms include:
Fatigue and Lack of Energy
Teens with mono often experience extreme fatigue and weakness that can disrupt their daily activities, school performance and social life. Some teens who have had mono report having missed entire semesters of school, took Incompletes, and made up their schoolwork over the summer. Others remember feeling so weak that they had to crawl to and from the bathroom.
That said, rest is extremely important for anyone who has mono. Encourage your teen to prioritize rest and modify their routines to accommodate their energy levels. It’s important they don’t try to overexert themselves.
Sore Throat and Swollen Tonsils
Teens might complain of a persistent and severe sore throat accompanied by swollen tonsils that makes swallowing painful. You can provide soothing remedies, such as warm saltwater gargles or over-the-counter throat lozenges, to alleviate any throat discomfort they’re experiencing.
Mono can cause flu-like symptoms, including a high fever, headache, muscle aches and chills. You can give your teen over-the-counter pain relievers, such as alternating Ibuprofen and Tylenol every six hours, to help reduce any fever and ease body aches and headaches. Cold compresses for the head and warm heating pads for muscle aches can be used interchangeably as needed, too.
Make sure your teen gets plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration and promote recovery.
How to Support Your Teen With Mono
To help your teen cope with and heal from mononucleosis, provide emotional support and create a soothing environment conducive to their recovery. Consider making use of the following strategies:
Communication and Understanding
Maintain open lines of communication with your teen to understand their concerns, frustrations and limitations that are all new to them as much as they are to you. Help them express their emotions and reassure them that recovery takes time. Remind them that they will get better with patience and time.
Work with your child’s teachers, school counselors and administrators to develop an academic plan that accommodates missed school days/weeks and supports their gradual return to full participation. You can encourage them to reach out to classmates for notes and assignments.
Encourage your teen to engage in light physical activities or hobbies as they can tolerate them, but don’t allow strenuous exercises or contact sports until they regain their strength. As they start to heal, help them strike a balance between rest and engaging in activities they enjoy, with careful moderation.
Expert Care and Support for Mono at AdventHealth
If you have concerns about your teen's mono symptoms or need expert guidance for their recovery, we’re here to help at AdventHealth. Our experienced health care professionals offer comprehensive care and compassionate support for teens.
Visit our website to learn more about our pediatric infectious disease services and schedule an appointment with our specialists. Teens deserve to feel whole — in body, mind and spirit.