Expert advice

Dr Caroline West: GP

Dr Caroline West combines her role in a busy inner-city general medical practice with presenting, producing and writing for a number of Australian television shows and magazines. ASK ME A QUESTION

Tiredness after glandular fever

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Glandular fever is an infection caused by the Epstein Barr virus.

Question:
I am 19 and I was diagnosed with glandular fever about three months ago. Although I am definitely slowly getting back my energy, it is taking a long time. I do a lot of walking every day, but I have only recently had the energy to start my yoga again. How long should I expect the glandular fever tiredness to last?

Although most of the symptoms of glandular fever settle within the first couple of weeks (sore throat, fevers, swollen lymph nodes in the neck and sore abdomen to name a few), the tiredness can sometimes linger for weeks or even months.

Glandular fever is an infection caused by the Epstein Barr virus. It is incredibly common between the ages of 10 and 35 and has been called the "kissing disease" as it can spread by close oral contact.

Certainly in the first few weeks of infection, rest is usually advised. If there is any question of the virus inflaming internal abdominal organs like the spleen, heavy physical activities and contact sports are also ruled out.

In the longer term, rest is often needed according to symptoms. While some exercise can help maintain mood, muscle mass and energy, too much exercise may exacerbate fatigue.

If the tiredness is ongoing, it may be valuable to see a dietician or nutritionist to make sure you have not omitted any nutrients during your illness.

The good news is that most people make a full recovery from glandular fever. However as your tiredness has been present for several months, I would recommend you see your doctor for further advice.


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