Jul 07 2009
The Epstein Barr virus (EBV) that causes mononucleosis or glandular fever is most common in teenagers and young adults. However it can also occur in babies and children.
Symptoms of Epstein Barr virus in children
Epstein Barr virus in children is often less severe than in teenagers and adults. Symptoms of Epstein Barr virus in children can include sore throat, swollen glands, fever and tiredness. Children are more prone to developing rashes and abdominal pain. Some develop a cough and runny nose. Others may develop the “Alice In Wonderland” syndrome where sizes, shapes and distances appear distorted during infection.
Symptoms generally last for between a week and a month. Although most people only get mono once, in some people the virus can recur when the body is run down or under stress
In underdeveloped countries, children are exposed to EBV early in life (from 3-6 years old) and may not develop noticeable symptoms. Generally the younger a child, the milder the symptoms tend to be.
How is Epstein Barr virus in children spread?
EBV is spread via saliva, often through kissing. For children the likely mode of transmission is the sharing of drinks, eating utensils, toys, towels etc. After infection the virus multiplies in the body for between 30 to 50 days before symptoms appear.
How is Epstein Barr virus in children diagnosed?
Your doctor will look at your child’s medical history and perform a physical examination to check for fever, sore throat, swollen glands and other indicators of a viral illness. A blood test called “the mono test” is used to confirm the diagnosis. This test may be negative in the first week of illness or in children under the age of 4.
Complications of Epstein Barr virus in children
Secondary infections like strep throat, pneumonia, meningitis and encephalitis can occur if the immune system is suppressed by the illness. Serious complications are rare but may also include rupture of the spleen, anemia and hepatitis. In children who are administered aspirin, a rare condition called Reye’s Syndrome can develop. This serious syndrome can affect the brain and kidneys.
Conventional treatment of Epstein Barr virus in children
Rest, plenty of fluids plus painkillers to relieve fever and pain are usually prescribed. If there is extensive swelling of the throat or glands which compromise breathing then steroids may be given. Steroids can relieve symptoms but they suppress the immune system in order to do so. This means that in some cases the virus can return when steroids are stopped.
Natural treatment for Epstein Barr virus in children
Fever is the body’s way of killing off infections so unless the fever is really high, it should not be suppressed with medication. A child can be kept comfortable with tepid sponge baths and lots of fluids. If your child is prone to febrile convulsions please discuss how to treat fever with your health professional.
Nutrients to fight the virus and build immunity in children include vitamin C, beta carotene, zinc, magnesium and the B complex. The herb echinacea is a good choice for children and can be taken as a liquid and disguised in juice.
If a child is not hungry then don’t force them to eat. Opt for light meals like soups, broths, freshly squeezed juices, and fruit. When they are a bit stronger add some protein foods like eggs, chicken, fish, lean red meat and cheese back into their diet. Sugar and processed white flour products should be eliminated from a child’s diet during recovery. These foods contain only empty calories that will hamper healing.
For more information on treating Epstein Barr virus in children with nutrients, herbs, a healthy diet, liver cleansing and lifestyle changes, then please refer to my e-book “Nature’s Amazing Mononucleosis Cures”.
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