Many people in Australia are exposed to the virus that causes glandular fever but never develop any symptoms. This is especially true of children.
In those who do develop glandular fever, it usually starts like most throat infections with:
- a high temperature (fever) of 38ºC or above
- swollen lymph glands, usually in the neck
- sore throat
- tiredness and fatigue
However, the main difference is the timeframe — while most people get over a viral sore throat in a few days, glandular fever makes most people feel unwell for 2 to 3 weeks, while the tiredness and swollen glands may last for 2 to 3 months, or even longer.
Other problems that may occur include:
- a fine pink rash on the body, especially if antibiotics have been taken
- enlargement of the spleen (a large organ in the upper left side of the abdomen) — this usually doesn't cause symptoms, although in rare cases the spleen may rupture
- a swollen and painful liver, which can lead to the skin becoming yellow through jaundice
Most people make a complete recovery.
When to contact your doctor
If the symptoms are prolonged and you feel unwell or concerned, it's best to see your doctor. The diagnosis of glandular fever can usually be confirmed with a blood test.
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Last reviewed: April 2019