If you wake up with a sore throat, your first thought is probably, Is this just a cold or something more serious? How can you determine what’s causing your symptoms?
There are key differentiators between something like the common cold and infectious mononucleosis, aka mono.
Knowing what to watch for is critical to treating your symptoms early so you can get on the road to recovery as soon as possible.
Are Mono and Strep Throat the Same Thing?
Mononucleosis is caused by a viral infection called the Epstein-Barr virus, or EBV. It is extremely common and may affect up to 95 percent of the U.S. population at some point in their lives.
It is possible to get the virus without actually getting sick, especially early in childhood. However, during the teen years or young adulthood, this virus will cause mono in as many as 50 percent of cases.
Strep throat, on the other hand, is caused by a bacterial infection. Much like mono, strep throat is prevalent among children and teens.
Is it Mono or Strep Throat?
Mononucleosis and strep throat both result in a sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and fever.
With strep throat, you will typically have white patches on the tonsils, red and swollen tonsils, and red spots on the roof of the mouth, and these symptoms may appear quickly.
Mono symptoms can take up to six weeks to appear. And because it’s possible to not know that you’re infected, you can give it to someone else during this incubation period without knowing it.
One of the more serious symptoms of mono is a swollen spleen. If you feel pressure or pain in the upper left area of your abdomen, seek medical attention immediately.
How is Mono Treated?
Mononucleosis is caused by a virus and cannot be treated with antibiotics. Because of this, the recommended treatment is getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet. Gargling with warm salt water can also help sooth a sore throat.
To relieve a sore throat or fever, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medication. If you don’t notice improvement in your symptoms within seven to 10 days, contact your doctor.
How is Strep Throat Treated?
Most cases of strep throat are treated using antibiotics. Two of the most common are penicillin and amoxicillin. If you’re given antibiotics in pill or liquid form, it’s important that you complete the prescription, even if you feel better. Most prescriptions are given for 10 days.
To help immediately alleviate any pain that accompanies strep throat, try drinking soothing liquids such as warm tea and taking an over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen.
How to Prevent Strep Throat and Mono
Strep throat is spread by coming in close contact with someone who’s been infected or by using personal items that belong to an infected person.
Mononucleosis, which is commonly referred to as the kissing disease, is transmitted through saliva, meaning you can contract it by kissing someone who has mono, as well as by being exposed to saliva through a cough or sneeze or by sharing a glass or food with someone who’s sick.
How Long Does a Sore Throat from Mono Last?
Typically, mono symptoms, such as a sore throat, will go away completely within a few weeks, but it can take up to three months for you to feel completely normal again. During this time, it is crucial that you get plenty of rest to help you recover; your risk of relapsing increases by returning to your usual schedule too soon.
Most doctors will also suggest that you avoid returning to vigorous activities for at least one month so you don’t rupture your spleen.
Before you return to your normal physical activities, it’s important to consult with your doctor first as he or she may recommend an exercise program to help you regain your strength.
CareNow® Urgent Care Can Help
If you believe you have mono or strep throat, consider visiting your local CareNow® Urgent Care clinic for treatment.
All of our more than 100 locations throughout the United States are open after hours and on the weekend, so you can stop by when it’s most convenient for you.
Even better? Use our Web Check-In® feature to avoid the waiting room during your visit.
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.