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Mononucleosis is colloquially known as mono. This viral infection can cause symptoms throughout the body including drowsiness, aching muscles, an irritated throat and overall feelings of fatigue. Other clinical findings have included skin rash, diminished appetite, and fever. Most mononucleosis cases usually resolve within a few weeks of diagnosis.

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However, this illness can sometimes lead to serious medical complications, such as a ruptured spleen, meningitis, and death. It is essential that physicians recognize the symptoms of mono accurately and treat the illness in its earliest stages.

Proper Diagnostic Procedure

Most clinicians will first ask their patients to make known their symptoms. Mononucleosis causes swelling in the lymph nodes of the neck, as well as the possibility of swelling in the tonsils, liver and spleen. Physician will typically examine these areas for indications of abnormal swelling. Patients may also undergo blood work to check for an unusual elevation of white blood cells. If a doctor suspects that symptoms are caused by mononucleosis, they can then perform a monospot test to check for the presence of antibodies that indicate an infection.

Mononucleosis Misdiagnosis

Doctors can sometimes misdiagnose strep throat as mononucleosis. The two conditions share many of the same symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes, an irritated throat and fever. They both can cause swollen tonsils that are coated with yellow or white spots. One distinctive feature is that mononucleosis generally causes a higher fever. In the majority of cases, the best way to distinguish between the conditions is blood work. Unlike mononucleosis, strep throat is triggered by a bacterial infection.

Influenza and mononucleosis share similar symptoms, such as body aches, fatigue and fever. Flu routinely causes symptoms that rarely occur in mononucleosis, such as coughing and a runny nose. Most clinicians perform a flu test in the initial days of the illness because the influenza symptoms are prevalent in other medical conditions. Unless the appropriate tests are conducted, a doctor can misinterpret the symptoms of the condition.

The clinical presentation of lymphoma is similar to mononucleosis and includes chills, an enlarged spleen and fever. The conditions differ in that lymphoma patients can experience itchy skin and night sweats. Physicians must perform X-rays and blood work to make a definitive diagnosis when the symptoms are nonspecific. A diagnosis based only upon symptom presentation could result in a misdiagnosis of lymphoma.

Tonsillitis causes a sore throat, swollen tonsils and difficulty swallowing or speaking. The additional symptoms of swollen lymph nodes, fever and chills may prompt some physicians to make a diagnosis of mononucleosis. A distinguishing diagnostic feature is that tonsillitis causes symptoms that infrequently occur in mononucleosis, such as headaches and ear pain. Many clinicians who note these symptoms conduct a monospot test to check for mononucleosis, the results of which can sometimes misinterpreted.