Glandular fever, also known as infectious mononucleosis is an acute infectious disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and characterised by fever, pharyngitis, swollen glands, often spleen enlargement, and severe fatigue that can continue for months. It mostly occurs in adolescence and young adulthood.
Glandular fever can be a debilitating illness for many teenagers, often contracting it in their final years of high school while under lots of other pressures such as exams.
Causes of Glandular Fever
Glandular Fever is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). EBV is a member of the herpes virus family and infects 95% of people by the age of 40.
In children, it usually causes no symptoms or only mild respiratory illness. However, when it infects adolescents or young adults, it can cause the more severe infectious mononucleosis. Once infected, the virus persists for life and can be reactivated without causing symptoms and may contaminate saliva. Thus, asymptomatic people can spread the virus through kissing or sharing food.
- Adolescence or young adulthood (peak incidence age 15-19)
- Kissing or sharing food with an infected individual
- Lack of previous infection in childhood (often occurs in higher socioeconomic groups)
- Weakened immune system
- Blood transfusion or bone marrow transplantation
Signs & symptoms of Glandular Fever
- Develop over 4-6 weeks after infection and vary widely in severity
- Early symptoms are flu-like: fever, severe fatigue, headache, sore throat, swollen tonsils
- Painful swollen glands in neck
- Spleen enlargement in 50% of cases
- Rash in 5% of cases
- May develop hepatitis or jaundice
- Profound fatigue which may last for many months
- Bacterial pharyngitis or tonsillitis, especially ‘strep throat’
- Infectious hepatitis
TREATMENT STRATEGY FOR GLANDULAR FEVER
- Support immune function
- Provide antivirals
- Reduce inflammation
- Manage fever
- Protect liver
- Restore energy levels (after acute phase)
- Support stress response
Diet plan guidelines for Glandular Fever
- Support immune system: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables, and low in sugar and processed foods
- Emphasise wholesome soups, smoothies, vegetable juices during acute phase.
- 2-3 L of filtered water daily
Supplements that support Glandular Fever
- Support immune function
- Vitamin C
- Selenium 200 mcg/day
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin D3 (if deficient)
- Methyl Folate or folinic acid (stimulates immunoglobulins)
- Restore energy levels / support stress response
Herbal medicine treatment that supports Glandular Fever
- Immune stimulants: echinacea, andrographis, reishi/shitake mushrooms, picrorrhiza, baptisia, cat’s claw
- Antiviral: lemon balm, St John’s wort, cat’s claw, goldenseal
- Anti-inflammatory: andrographis
- Antipyretic: andrographis, elder flower, yarrow, peppermint
- Hepatoprotective: picrorrhiza, St Mary’s thistle, schisandra
- Adaptogens / adrenal tonic: withania, rhodiola, rehmannia
- Nervines: oats, lavender, gotu kola
FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE TREATMENT OF GLANDULAR FEVER
The above considerations may help support someone that is suffering from glandular fever or the after effects of glandular fever.
Glandular Fever is a common virus that effects people differently. Some recover relatively quickly and are seemingly never bothered again by the virus. Other individuals aren’t so lucky, chronic fatigue and low mood can set it, debilitating their life.
Active and high achieving teenagers may exhibit reclusive type behaviour, unable to attend school or meet sporting commitments for long periods of time. Often patients present to us many years after the initial disease and through investigation reveal that they have never really recovered since the illness. These patients often have immune system dysfunction, underlying body system imbalances, gut pathogens and mineral and nutrient deficiencies that need addressing to return to full health.
At our Perth clinic of Advanced Functional Medicine we have experience working with people suffering from Glandular Fever.
If you or a family member require assistance with recovery from glandular fever or other immune system viral attack that causes chronic fatigue symptoms we would love to hear from you.
What have been the blocks preventing you to heal? What methods have you used that have made an improvement in your fatigue? Please write a comment below.