Medical Q&As

Glandular fever - resume kissing?

I had glandular fever during July. I would like to know three things: 1.When is it safe the kiss my wife and kids again on the mouth? 2. Should I be taking any special nutritional or vitamins during my recovery? 3. My liver was damaged, so I am off alcohol and paracetamol. If I took any of these, say a glass of wine, what would the effect be?

Glandular fever is also known as infectious mononucleosis. Americans refer to it as kissing disease because it can be spread by mouth-to-mouth contact but it can also be spread by coughing, sneezing and sharing food and cups. The virus is shed from the throat during the active phase of the infection but it has been demonstrated that it can be shed for up to a year after the infection has subsided. In answer to your first question, if one were to respond as a zealot, the advice would be that you should avoid kissing for up to a year after the infection. However, that would be very strange behaviour to maintain within a normal family. A reasonable approach would suggest that you avoid kissing while you are sick, just as you would while suffering from any other upper respiratory infection. With regard to your second question many doctors recommend that people with this viral infection should eat a nutritious diet and also take vitamin supplements because the body’s vitamin stores can be depleted by the illness and this can contribute to fatigue and lethargy. Finally with regard to your query about your liver it is important to say that infectious mononucleosis can affect the liver however this effect is usually temporary. Your doctor is likely to recommend some routine blood tests that measure the amount of liver enzymes in your blood. These results will indicate if your liver function has returned to normal. In that scenario it would be possible to resume drinking alcohol and taking paracetamol when needed. If you were to break those rules while your liver function is abnormal it is possible that you could drink a glass of wine without any ill effects. However, if your liver enzymes were very high, the alcohol could push them higher. It is probably safer to follow the advice you have been given for the moment and that advice can be tempered in the future depending on the results of future blood tests.