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Glandular Fever

Learn more about how glandular fever can manifest, how to protect your immunity and that of your loved ones, we provide advice on how to approach glandular fever and immunity through naturopathic practices.

What is glandular fever?

Glandular fever, also known as infectious mononucleosis or 'mono', is a viral infection primarily thought to be caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and is often transmitted mainly through saliva. While it can affect people of all ages, it is most prevalent among young adults and teenagers[i]. You cannot usually get glandular fever more than once[ii].

What are the symptoms of glandular fever?

a very high temperature, often accompanied by chills

a very sore throat

swelling on either side of your neck caused by swollen glands

extreme tiredness or exhaustion

tonsillitis not improving over time

In most cases, symptoms should pass within a week or two[iii].

Why do we get glandular fever?

Transmission: Glandular fever is spread through saliva, so you can get it through kissing or by sharing cups or cutlery[iv].

What is the Epstein-Barr virus? It’s a type of herpes virus, known as human herpesvirus and one of the most common viruses that can affect humans. Some evidence shows that it affects at least 95% of the population[v].

How does Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) cause glandular fever? EBV infects the cells lining the throat and salivary glands, and then spreads to nearby white blood cells called B lymphocytes. It further spreads through the lymphatic channels, encountering lymph nodes that act as filters and produce immune cells. The spleen, another organ involved in fighting infections, also receives infected cells. The infected B cells reach the lymph nodes in the neck, back of the head, and behind the ears, causing swelling and pain. This swelling of the lymph nodes is why the infection is called "glandular fever." Additionally, about half of glandular fever patients experience inflammation and enlargement of the spleen[vi].

Who is at risk of glandular fever? People with suppressed immunity are generally more at risk, this may be due to HIV infection, diabetes or long term intake of steroids and drugs that supress immunity like chemotherapeutic drugs[vii][viii]. An early HIV infection can manifest as glandular fever[ix].

What are the risks associated with developing glandular fever?

Possible complications: Complications associated with glandular fever are not of a high possibility, but if they do occur, they can be serious. Complications may include: further infections of other areas of the body or severe anaemia (a lack of oxygen-carrying red blood cells). Other complications include prolonged fatigue and mild depression, which usually resolve in time[x]. Around one in every 100 cases of glandular fever is thought to lead to a condition that affects the nervous system, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, viral meningitis, encephalitis and Bell’s palsy[xi].

Why is nutritional therapy important for glandular fever?

Proper nutrition plays a significant role in supporting the immune system, reducing inflammation, and promoting overall recovery. Additionally, a nutritional therapist can offer guidance on maximising nutrient intake, as well as managing energy levels, supporting liver function, and addressing any potential complications or long-term effects associated with glandular fever.

Supplement recommendations for glandular fever

Viridian Extra-C 950mg / Pure Encapsulations Liposomal Vitamin C Liquid: Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation[xii].

Pure Encapsulations Zinc 30mg: Zinc is essential for immune function, and supplementation has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of viral infections[xiii].

Viridian Vitamin D3 400IU: Vitamin D plays an important role in immune function, whilst low levels have been associated with increased susceptibility to viral infections[xiv].

Allicin Immune: It is well established that allicin contributes significantly to garlic’s antiviral properties[xv].

Viridian Echinacea Tincture – Organic: Echinacea is thought to have immune-boosting properties and has been shown to reduce the frequency and duration of some viral infections along with having anti-viral properties[xvi].

Adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha, Ginseng and Holy Basil all have been shown to improve immune function through various mechanisms, such as enhancing cell-mediated immunity[xvii]. Living Nutrition Organic Fermented Ashwagandha / A Vogel Siberian Ginseng Eleutherococcus Drops / Terranova Holy Basil 400mg.

Myconutri IS Complex - Organic Mushroom Powder: Cordyceps, as well as other mushrooms in this complex, may offer potential benefits for an EBV infection by supporting the immune system and potentially by reducing viral activity[xviii][xix].

Viridian Astaxanthin: Astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, may have potential benefits for EBV by bolstering immunity and reducing oxidative stress associated with the virus[xx].

Terranova Elderberry and Olive Leaf Super Blend Powder: Both elderberry and olive leaf have been traditionally used for their potential antiviral properties and immune-boosting effects, making them of interest to people with an active EBV infection[xxi][xxii].

Cytoplan Immune Complete: An all-encompassing multivitamin, mineral and phytonutrient complex incorporating optimal levels of key immune supporting nutrients and excellent all-round vitamin and mineral levels.

Dietary suggestions for glandular fever

Fresh fruit and vegetables are important, but slow-cooked meals, soups, and broths will also be of great help. For those with a sore throat and little energy to cook, a smoothie made with frozen fruits, vegetables and plain yogurt (or plant-based alternative) may be better tolerated.

Avoiding sugar is also important for managing EBV symptoms, as sugar can increase inflammatory responses, impacting the immune system.

Lifestyle suggestions for glandular fever

Rest is vital: Fatigue is a major symptom of glandular fever. Therefore, rest is essential for making a full recovery, it should speed up illness recovery too. Once you start feeling better, however, it is recommended to stop being bed bound and begin to introduce some gentle movement and activities into your day. This is so that the fatigue from the disease doesn’t persist. That said, do be mindful of anything that makes you too tired again, as this could cause symptoms to return. The spleen is also slightly swollen in this disease so over doing it is very dangerous as it could cause injury to the spleen.

Hydration: Hydration is also highly important to prevent dehydration, especially in the case of a high fever. Try to have warm herbal teas and broths which are soothing for a sore throat. Fresh filtered water daily is also a requirement to replenish fluids.

Are there any functional testing options for glandular fever?

If you have experienced glandular fever or any complications, there are many ways we can work with you to support any issues you might be having. As part of this, we offer a variety of functional testing options which we can suggest on an individual basis, informed by your unique medical history and presenting symptoms. Please talk to us today if you would like more information surrounding glandular fever or if you would like to enquire about how a nutritional therapy consultation could help.

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Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.