Glan­du­lar fever. Ka­t­rina Creer re­ports on this con­di­tion

Sunday Mail - Body and Soul - - HEALTH -

Com­plex cases

Meg Syme, 16, is still re­cov­er­ing from glan­du­lar fever, which she con­tracted in Oc­to­ber 2010. She be­came jaun­diced and was con­fined to her bed. She missed the last term of school and is now try­ing al­ter­na­tive ther­a­pies to boost her en­ergy.

“Mum took me to the hos­pi­tal with a fever and vom­it­ing, but they

Nick Tel­lam, 22, is study­ing medicine at Univer­sity. He con­tracted glan­du­lar fever in Novem­ber 2010.

“I thought it was just re­ally bad ton­sil­li­tis – so bad that I went to hos­pi­tal, but they sent me home. But my throat swelled up and I could hardly breathe. I couldn’t even drink with a straw. I was

It takes about four to six weeks from in­fec­tion for the symp­toms to ap­pear. While it is more com­mon in high school and univer­sity-aged stu­dents, glan­du­lar fever can oc­cur later in life. Like other ill­nesses, it tends to be more se­vere in older peo­ple. Once in­fected, the EBV stays in the body for life. An es­ti­mated 80 per cent of the Aus­tralian pop­u­la­tion carry EBV, but not ev­ery­one will de­velop symp­toms.

Stud­ies have shown when EBV in­fec­tion oc­curs dur­ing the teenage or young adult years, in 35 to 50 per cent of cases it causes glan­du­lar fever.

The rea­son some peo­ple de­velop the ill­ness and oth­ers don’t is com­plex, Dr Khanna says. Re­search car­ried out in the QIMR lab­o­ra­tory sug­gests the im­mune sys­tem re­acts dif­fer­ently for ev­ery­one, par­tic­u­larly in the way in which the killer T cells re­act to the virus.

It is pos­si­ble to pass EBV on to an­other per­son even if you don’t have the symp­toms. This is ev­i­dent when the virus is trans­mit­ted through kiss­ing.

“It is dif­fi­cult to say how long a per­son who is car­ry­ing a virus silently can be in­fec­tious,” Dr Khanna says. “There is lit­er­a­ture which sug­gests stress can lead to in­creased vi­ral load in the saliva and thus can be trans­ferred to an­other per­son.’’

A vac­cine may be a pos­si­bil­ity, but the prob­lem for re­searchers is that EBV can sit un­de­tected in­side cells in a “sleep mode”.

While re­lapses are com­mon within the first year af­ter in­fec­tion, it is un­likely years af­ter the orig­i­nal in­fec­tion. The only ex­cep­tion is when the im­mune sys­tem is sup­pressed fol­low­ing an or­gan trans­plant.

It is also un­likely that a per­son could be in­fected by a dif­fer­ent strain of the disease. A vac­cine will not pre­vent in­fec­tion, but it will lessen the symp­toms of glan­du­lar fever.

No quick fix

Nor­mally the only treat­ment for glan­du­lar fever is to take time to let the body fully re­cover. Symp­toms can reappear if the im­mune sys­tem has not re­turned to nor­mal af­ter the “cy­tokine storm”. The ill­ness has also been linked to chronic fa­tigue syn­drome.

There is some re­search that shows those in­fected by EBV also have a higher chance of con­tract­ing cer­tain types of can­cers.

Natur­opath Deb­o­rah Draf­fin, from Syd­ney Wholis­tic, says she uses a com­bi­na­tion of herbs to treat glan­du­lar fever, in­clud­ing im­mune boost­ers such as an­dro­graphis and echi­nacea. She also rec­om­mends a B-com­plex vi­ta­min or multi-min­eral sup­ple­ment, as well as vi­ta­min C and mag­ne­sium.

She says eat­ing colour­ful veg­eta­bles, fruits and goodqual­ity pro­teins will boost the body’s im­mune sys­tem. Drink at least eight large glasses of wa­ter a day and avoid al­co­hol, sugar, dairy and fatty foods.

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