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Glandular fever

Glandular fever mostly affects teenagers and young adults. It gets better without treatment, but it can make you feel very ill and last for weeks.

The GP might order a blood test to confirm it's glandular fever and to rule out other illnesses, like tonsillitis. This will test for the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever.

The GP will not give you antibiotics. Glandular fever is caused by a virus so antibiotics will not work.

There's no cure for glandular fever – it gets better by itself.

Do

  • rest and sleep

  • drink plenty of fluids (to avoid dehydration)

  • take painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen (do not give aspirin to children under 16)

Don't

  • do not drink alcohol – your liver might be weak while you have glandular fever

You should feel better within 2 to 3 weeks. Some people might feel extremely tired for months.

Try to gradually increase your activity when your energy starts to come back.

Glandular fever can cause your spleen to swell. For the first month, avoid heavy lifting and sports or activities that might increase your risk of falling, as this may damage your spleen.

Glandular fever is spread through spit, so you can get it through kissing or by sharing cups or cutlery.

You're infectious for up to 7 weeks before you get symptoms.

You can go back to school or work as soon as you start to feel better.

To prevent glandular fever spreading:

Do

  • wash your hands regularly

  • wash bedding and clothes that may have spit on them

Don't

  • do not kiss others (glandular fever is known as the kissing disease)

  • do not share cups, cutlery or towels

Most people get better with no problems. But sometimes glandular fever may lead to other problems like: