What is the Difference Between Mono and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Mono and chronic fatigue syndrome are two different pathological conditions where fatigueness is the common manifestation between them.

Mono or mononucleosis is a viral infectious disease which is caused by virus named Epstein – Barr. The virus is commonly present in human saliva and mucosal areas.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is not a specific disease or virus. As the name syndrome implies, it is a collection or set of symptoms with clinical expression of profound fatigue which lasts for more than 6 months leading to more than 50% to 60% of decline in physical health and activities.

Before we check more about linkage/difference between mono and chronic fatigue syndrome, let us check in detail about what is mononucleosis and what are its symptoms.

What Is Infectious Mononucleosis?

Epstein – Barr virus causing the infectious mononucleosis disease was first discovered by Werner Henle by 1968. It is also called as kissing disease as it is mainly transmitted through saliva. Till now  humans are one and only carrier of Epstein – Barr virus.

Mononucleosis is not as contagious as few other common infections like cold. Epstein – Barr virus attacks the lymphatic system; mainly it infects B Lymphocytes that are located in Oropharynx.

These infected B cells travels to liver, spleen, lymph nodes, etc. and spreads infection. Slowly and gradually it increases the symptoms in infected human initially with swelling in localized parts followed with Fatigueness predominantly.

Infectious Mononucleosis Symptoms

Symptoms of infectious mononucleosis start to appear mostly after four to six weeks of the initial infection of Epstein – Barr virus. Some of the mono chronic fatigue symptoms include:

  • Swelling in glands situated at back of neck, under arms, above groin, etc.
  • Fatigueness
  • Sore Throat
  • Anorexia (loss of appetite)
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Rise in body Temperature
  • Sudden rashes all over body
  • Organomegaly mainly with spleen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach disturbances

Mono and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: What Is The Link?

Mono and Fatigue
Mono OR Fatigue

Confusion between mononucleosis and CFS is common between many individuals.

Major correlation or difference between mono and chronic fatigue syndrome is that the chronic fatigue syndrome is mostly followed by a severe attack or spell of the disease known as infectious mononucleosis.

Hence it is literally also called as mono chronic fatigue syndrome or mononucleosis chronic fatigue syndrome.

In mononucleosis chronic fatigue syndrome, there is no specific diagnostic tool available for evaluating fatigue. But an individual may experience a constant exhaustion with reduction in capacity to do regular tasks which will not be relieved even by taking maximum rest.

The Main Difference

Mononucleosis patients mostly feel more and more tired even in simple conditions such as lifting their head up from the bed or pillow. This may get treated after sometime by taking proper rest and medications.

Whereas with mono chronic fatigue syndrome individuals fatigueness will be more severe and may last for few months. Even simple things like eating, bathing, dressing, etc. is much difficult to perform by themselves after certain period of time. This fatigueness will not resolve even by taking continuous rest or relaxation.

In simple terms we can say that if the disease lasts for more than 6 months duration, then it is considered as a chronic one.

Can Mononucleosis Cause Chronic Fatigue

It was reported that the chance of acquiring chronic fatigue syndrome is 9% to 12% higher in case of adults who are affected previously with mononucleosis infection.

Even though the diagnostic tests for Infectious mononucleosis like monospot test and heterophile antibody test are used as a predictor for the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Mostly individuals who were affected from both these diseases will recover readily with good care.

According to a recent article in New York Times magazine widespread of mono chronic fatigue syndrome is higher among teens and young adults with age group ranges mainly between 25 and 35. Out of them it was observed that more than 50 percent of mononucleosis infected persons starts developing chronic fatigue syndrome gradually.

It is therefore true that chronic fatigue syndrome years after mono is more common and can be developed if proper care is not taken for treating the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis. Thus the present day results and observations reveal and confirm strong linkage between infectious mononucleosis and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Diagnosis of Mononucleosis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Diagnosis for mononucleosis and chronic fatigue syndrome are quite different. Mononucleosis infection is mostly confirmed with the help of diagnostic tests such as monospot and heterophile antibody test.

These tests help in diagnosis by identifying the antibodies produced by our immune system against mononucleosis causing virus. Whereas chronic fatigue syndrome is mostly diagnosed by detailed examination of other possible factors or causes for fatigue apart from monospot and heterophile tests.

Chronic fatigue syndrome can be confirmed with an individual if he/she meets more than 4 or 5 of the following conditions:

  • Extreme Fatigueness lasting for more than 6 months
  • Significant impairment in concentration and memory powers
  • Tenderness over neck, armpit & lymph nodes
  • Sore throat
  • General Myalgia
  • Headache constantly
  • Sleeplessness or very poor sleep
  • General arthralgia without redness and swelling

Most people acquire these diseases at their adolescent age. In rare cases some people also suffer from the problem at their older age.

Mono Chronic Fatigue Treatment

As such there is no specific treatment for mono and chronic fatigue syndrome, other than supportive care for symptoms and signs what the patient is getting.

Post mono chronic fatigue patients are encouraged to lead a good social life. Supportive family and groups too helps in getting the patients better. Although having strong and supportive relationships can help in early recovery from CFS symptoms, patients should avoid imposing unreasonable expectations on their loved ones.

Besides above mentioned, few more things that can work for treating chronic fatigue after mono are:

  1. Medications to combat fatigue, pain, discomfort, depression and anxiety
  2. Regular exercises and yoga techniques
  3. Sleep management and relaxation techniques
  4. Meditation and massage therapies





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