Typically, treating mono involves providing relief of symptoms as the body fights the virus. Bed rest is often the most important treatment; it's also good to drink plenty of fluids. Otherwise, treatment may involve taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen (for fever and body aches) and in some cases, antibiotics (for infected throat or tonsils) or steroids.
Mono Treatment: An Overview
There is currently no treatment to kill the virus that causes mononucleosis (see Mononucleosis Causes); therefore, treatment goals are focused on providing relief of mono symptoms as the body fights the virus.
Sore Throat Treatment
Cold drinks and frozen desserts are both ways to relieve sore throat symptoms. Doctors also recommend gargling with salt water (about half a teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water), and sucking on throat lozenges, available over-the-counter in pharmacies and other stores.
If the throat or tonsils are infected, a throat culture should be taken so the doctor can prescribe an appropriate antibiotic. Ampicillin is usually not recommended because it sometimes causes a rash that can be confused with the pink, measles-like rash that 1 out of 5 mono patients develop.
Treatment for Fever and Body Aches
For fever and achiness, you can take acetaminophen (marketed as Tylenol®, Datril®, and others) or ibuprofen (marketed as Advil®, Motrin®, Nuprin®, and others). If you're under 20, don't take aspirin unless your doctor approves it. In children and teens, aspirin taken for viral illnesses has been associated with the potentially fatal disease known as Reye's syndrome.
Treatment for Tonsillitis or Trouble Breathing
For treating mono, some physicians prescribe a 5-day course of steroids, to control the swelling of the throat and tonsils. The use of steroids has also been reported to decrease the overall length and severity of the illness, but these reports have not been published.
If a person who has mono starts having breathing problems, contact a doctor immediately.