Q: My son was diagnosed with mono

Mono Recovery
“My son was diagnosed with mono last week. He is scheduled for philmon with the scouts on June 13. He is a 6’5 and swims high school & the YMCA teams. How do I know if he is OK to go on this.”

Assuming that you are referring to garden variety mono, caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, I suspect that you know that it is a very common viral illness. In fact, most of us will have contracted it by the end of our 3rd decade. Clinically, it can vary between minimal symptoms to a significant illness with total body implications that can make one feel miserable. Hospitalization is unusual. Not knowing your son or how sick he is/was, I will offer you some suggestions.

Given the potential activity at Camp, the major worry involves spleen enlargement that usually but does not inevitably occur with mono. The spleen is a blood filtering organ that resides under the L side of the diaphragm. When it enlarges, it emerges from the protective shield of the rib cage. This less protected location plus its more fragile transformation make it significantly more vulnerable to injury. If it breaks, potentially lethal internal bleeding can occur.

Most prudent practitioners warn against physical activities that could result in an injury to that area (e.g., contact sports, falls, heavy lifting) until it returns to its normal size, location and structural integrity. There is no hard and fast rule, but this prohibition should be in effect until the spleen can no longer be felt on examination. Have his health practitioner confirm this. A month for most people should be sufficient.

Otherwise, a person’s well being should be the rule. Most people are wiped out for a few weeks. Although recovery time is highly variable, most people are back to near-normal activity within 6 – 8 weeks.

Bottom line: Once the spleen has retreated to its normal spot, his personal well being is the most important factor. Just make sure that he does not do too much too soon. Quarantine is not an issue.



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