Glandular fever

Glandular fever often starts with a few days of mild symptoms, including headache, and tiredness. The major symptoms then develop and may last 7 - 21 days. This usually involves a fever, sore throat and tiredness along with aches and pains all over the body. This phase of the illness is accompanied by tender enlargement of the glands which are around the body to help defend against infection.

A small number of people develop a faint rash on the trunk and limbs and sometimes the liver may become inflamed (hepatitis) which can lead to a small degree of jaundice.


After the worst of the initial symptoms have passed, most people continue to feel tired all the time and this is frequently accompanied by depression.


Glandular fever is caused by a virus known as Epstein-Barr virus and is spread in saliva. It is usually seen in teenagers and young adults. After contact with an infected person, glandular fever takes 4 -7 weeks to come out. An infected person is contagious for weeks to months after developing the infection.


Your doctor will probably diagnose you just based on your symptoms, but can also undertake a blood test specifically for glandular fever.


Antibiotics do not help in glandular fever as it is caused by a virus. The main treatment given is pain killers or anti-inflammatory drugs to treat the fever and the pain. Usually your doctor will advise plenty of rest for a prolonged period of time, plenty of fluids and not to rush back to full activities too soon.


Our Advice

  • Treat the symptoms of your glandular fever with pain killers such as paracetamol or anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • Take more rest than normal.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you are off your food.
  • Do not rush back to full activity too soon - build up slowly.
  • If you have evidence of hepatitis avoid alcohol.
  • If you need to take exams whilst you have any of the affects of glandular fever you are advised to delay them or ask your doctor for a letter to present to the exam board as your performance will be affected.

Store Finder