That time of year again, when I see many patients come in and complain about stuffed sinuses, headache, red eyes..”my allergies have returned” they say. Looks act and smells like allergies…but what if its not.
My 19 year old daughter home from her studies on the island was complaining about her allergies. Headaches, can t breathe out of her nose, fatigue, red eyes. We tried several different remedies for allergies they would help temporairly but that was it. Life got busy she was working alot so didn’t hear much from her.
Then she began to complain again As her mom I felt the need to state the obvious..you are not getting enough rest, not eating properly, not drinking enough water, staying out too late ..no wonder you feel tired all the time..Your body needs you to slow down, blah blah blah…we Ve all heard this from our parents when we complained of our own conditions but didn’t take our health seriously enough.
This continued for a few weeks, and thought with proper nourishment and rest she d start to feel better
But she didn t…in fact she started getting worse…much worse. The lymph on her neck became enlarged, the bags under her eyes literally swallowed her eyes, her muscles ached, she developed fever, chills, and finally a raw painful sore throat. We went to the walk in clinic where I asked the Dr for a throat swab, for strep…and a blood test for mono. He looked at her throat and was sure she had strep and thought we d be wasting resources to check for mono as well. I insisted. Strep came back negative and mono came in positive.
Infectious mononeucleosis…Epstein Barr Virus. AKA the kissing disease which is almost endemic for college students.
Mono is spread through saliva, kissing, sharing utensils, and drinks with the infected person. The incubation time is 4-7 weeks, before you start to see some symptoms.
Its important to get a proper diagnosis for mono. Many people suspect it to be strep and without testing will put them on antibiotics. This of course will not help the patient and in fact generally will complicate symptoms further as they may develop a rash, and the antibiotics which have no effect on a virus can further compromise their immune system.
Once the symptoms hit full force, the patient is quite ill, and very uncomfortable. Typical symptoms include,
fever chills, enlarged lymph, headache, ear ache, raw achy sore throat, fatigue, cough, naseau. Some of the dangers are enlarged spleen and complications with the liver. Another reason to get a proper diagnosis, as athletes may push themselves and without proper rest begin back at their sport leaving their enlarged spleen very vunerable.
The number one treatment Drs. will tell you is rest. Rest….and more REST. They will tell you to take tylenol and throat lozenges. Hard to sit back and see someone so ill without helping them out.
Thankfully Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture can provide more relief. Acupuncture can help alleviate the pain of the swollen throat, and headache, relieve the pressure felt in the ear, and shorten the time one is ill. The use of essential oils, of lavendar and eucalyptus, were used as a steam inhaltion to help the pressure of the sinuses. Proper combination of oils were used to help unplug the pressure in the ear, as well ease some of the muscular aches.
Finally a good chinese herbal formula was used to assist with healing and destroy the virus. Now in recovery stage a new formula is used to restore the integrity of the immune system. There is no specific formula that is a one size fits all. When you go see your Chinese Medical Practitioner they can recommend specific herbs, oils and vitamins that will assist you with the symtoms that are unique to you.
Research has shown that, depending on the method used to detect the virus, anywhere from 20%-80% of people who have had mononucleosis and have recovered, will continue to secrete the EBV in their saliva for years due to periodic “reactivations” of the viral infection. Since healthy people without symptoms also secrete the virus during reactivation episodes throughout their lifetime, isolation of people infected with EBV is not necessary. It is currently believed that these healthy people, who nevertheless secrete EBV particles, are the primary reservoir for transmission of EBV among humans.”
In The U.S. up to 95% of adults in their 40s present with antibodies against EBV. STrong healthy immune systems produces antibodes that will destroy the invading virus.
Mono can linger for months, even years for those that push themselves and dont allow themselves enough rest. Having a proper diagnosis and understanding the illness and how to beat it is very important.
For some people with compromised immune systems stressful situations such as moving, or exams, or getting a cold can reactivate the virus. Vacations although exciting, can also bring on an attack.
Prevention is very important, and having some good herbs on hand the moment you begin to feel ill can ward off a potentially nasty reoccurance of this very debilitating virus.