Complications of Mono

Although rare, mono complications can occur. These complications can affect the blood, spleen, nervous system, liver, heart, and lungs. While some of these problems may not require treatment, others (such as a ruptured spleen) are quite serious.

Complications of Mono: An Overview

It is possible for complications to occur in people with mono. Although these complications occur infrequently, when they do develop, they can be dramatic.
 
Complications of this disease can affect the:
 
  • Blood
  • Spleen
  • Nervous system
  • Liver
  • Heart
  • Lungs.
     
Blood-Related Complications
Mono complications that affect the blood can include:
 
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (destruction of red blood cells)
  • Thrombocytopenia (decrease in the number of platelets, which assist in blood clotting)
  • Granulocytopenia (deficiency of white blood cells).
     
These blood complications usually improve over one to two months, without any treatment.
 
Ruptured Spleen
Infrequently, the spleen can rupture in someone with mononucleosis. When the spleen does rupture in such cases, it usually happens during the second or third week of the illness. Severe abdominal pain is the most common symptom associated with a ruptured spleen. Surgery is the only way to treat this potential complication of mono.
 
Complications Involving the Nervous System
There are a number of possible mono complications that can occur within the nervous system. The most common are cranial nerve palsies (including Bell's palsy) and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
 
Other nervous system complications can include:
 
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (inflammation of certain nerves, causing muscle weakness and paralysis)
  • Seizures
  • Meningitis
  • Transverse myelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord or bone marrow).
     
In 85 percent of cases, these complications improve on their own, without treatment.
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Information on Mono

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