Complications of Mono
Complications That May Affect the Liver
It is normal for the liver to be mildly affected when a person has mononucleosis. Hepatitis, which is inflammation of the liver, is common. In most cases, this complication improves without treatment. It is extremely rare for mono to cause any permanent damage to the liver.
Complications of mono that affect the heart are uncommon but can include:
- Pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the heart)
- Myocarditis (inflammation of the middle layer of the heart wall).
Complications Involving the Lungs
Difficulty breathing can occur in someone with mono, because swollen tonsils can block the airway. This mono complication usually responds well to steroid medicine.
The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which causes most cases of mononucleosis, establishes a lifelong, dormant (inactive) infection in some cells of the body's immune system.
A late event in a very few carriers of this virus is the emergence of Burkitt's lymphoma (a type of tumor in the tissue of the lymph nodes) and nasopharyngeal carcinoma (a cancerous tumor of the nose and the canal between the cavity of the mouth and the esophagus), two rare cancers that are not normally found in the United States. EBV appears to play an important role in these cancers, but is probably not the sole cause of disease.