Healthy Living

Can Mononucleosis Affect My Liver?

Can Mononucleosis Affect My Liver?

Key Takeaways

  • Mononucleosis can lead to the expansion and sometimes rupture of the spleen.
  • Mononucleosis can also lead to the development of anemia.
  • The accumulation of toxins in the body from mono causes inflammation of the liver. It may become enlarged, tender, and unable to perform its functions.

Mononucleosis (mono) is not typically a serious disease, but it may lead to serious complications. Mononucleosis results from the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) that belongs to the herpes family. This virus is so common that most adults in their thirties have already developed immunity against it. The common signs of mono are fatigue, headaches, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and fever. Mononucleosis is a condition that is easily spread through saliva and bodily fluids, giving it the nickname "the kissing disease." Though it is not usually life threatening, the Epstein-Barr virus can be very dangerous to people with weakened immune systems, like those who have the HIV/AIDS virus or who have had a recent organ transplant.

Medication is not prescribed to treat mononucleosis. The patient is usually advised to get plenty of bed rest and drink plenty of fluids. If any medication is given, it is to treat severe symptoms and may include painkillers.

Unlike other diseases, many people rely quite heavily on natural remedies like herbs, apple cider vinegar, and coconut oil for mononucleosis. These remedies have been found to be beneficial in alleviating the severity of symptoms.

Mononucleosis can causing the swelling and occasionally the rupture of the spleen. This occurs due to an accumulation of toxic materials in the body. If the spleen ruptures, it causes very sharp pain in the upper left region of the abdomen. Immediate medical attention (and often surgery) is recommended for patients who experience this condition. Sometimes, mononucleosis can lead to hepatitis, or an inflammation of the liver. The liver filters a person's blood, removing any harmful substances, like dead cells, fats, toxins, hormones, and bilirubin. If the liver becomes infected or is faced with more toxins than it can handle, it can be come inflamed. Once the liver becomes inflamed, it is unable to properly perform its functions. This leads to toxins remaining unfiltered in the body and some nutrients not being processed.

A blood test called a liver panel is usually recommended in the case of liver inflammation. The test checks for elevated levels of liver enzymes. Not usually serious, liver inflammation usually decreases as your liver enzymes normalize. Specific treatment is not required. However, it is important to keep track and alert the doctor in case it gets aggravated or if additional symptoms appear.

In most cases, mononucleosis infection only mildly affects the liver. It may cause jaundice, marked by a yellow tint in the eyes and skin, but this occurs only in very rare cases. It is extremely important to avoid junk food, alcohol, and caffeine at this stage, as it can cause further inflammation of the liver.

Patients with hepatitis often become weak, have a fever, feel nauseated, vomit, have headaches, have a loss of appetite, have joint pains and muscles aches, and experience extreme  drowsiness. Hepatitis can also lead to chronic diseases of the liver. Because of its effect on the liver, mononucleosis can also lead to jaundice (the yellowing of the skin and mucus layers in the eyes). This condition usually arises from the production of too much bilirubin, the yellow substance found in hemoglobin that is used by red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. When a person’s red blood cells are destroyed, the body forms new cells, and the liver gets rid of the old ones. When one has jaundice, bilirubin from red blood cells accumulates in the body, because the liver can’t rid the body of old red blood cells once they have been broken down. Jaundice can also lead to cerebral palsy, teeth problems, intellectual issues, hearing problems, and vision problems.

Complications with this infection are rare but possible. Therefore, it is wise to be cautious and report any abnormality in your condition to a doctor.

Mononucleosis can also lead to the development of anemia. This is a condition where the body produces fewer red blood cells. This condition could require medication. Thrombocytopenia is another condition that can result from mononucleosis, where very few platelets are produced and patients experience blood clotting difficulties. Myocarditis can also result from mono. It occurs from inflammation in the heart muscles and causes the following symptoms:

Medical attention is required immediately for any of these conditions. Other nervous system diseases that occur from the Epstein-Barr virus are meningitis and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Tonsillitis, or the swelling of the tonsils, may also occur.

As you can see, mononucleosis poses a risk for many different complications. It can even affect a person's liver, typically through hepatitis or jaundice. If someone believes they may have mono, it is therefore important to seek medical help and treatment to avoid other complications such as these. 

In a majority of the cases, the patient recovers within a couple of weeks. However, the disease can cause severe fatigue, so it may take a few months to get back to normal.

Mononucleosis is a disease that can affect anyone at anytime. Your immune system plays a huge role in how well you recover from this viral infection. Here are a few common ways to boost immunity.

  • Adequate sleep and rest – Ensure you follow a regular sleep schedule. Lack of sleep or oversleeping are both equally bad for you.
  • Include vegetables and fruits in your diet – Limit your meat intake and increase your consumption of vegetables and fruits to ensure your body gets the dose of nutrients it needs. Most vegetables and fruits are rich in minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins, and are thus capable of strengthening your immune health.
  • Limit alcohol and sugar – It is advisable to limit both sugar and alcohol, as they deplete nutrients and weaken the immune system. It is critical to avoid intake completely during a mononucleosis attack.
  • Regularly exercise – It is important to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Not only is it beneficial to your immune system, but it also leaves you feeling good.

Though debilitating, mononucleosis infections are not often serious or life-threatening. In time, patients make a complete recovery and can go about their life as usual.