Symptoms of glandular fever 

Symptoms of glandular fever are thought to take around one to two months to develop after infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).

Main symptoms

The most common symptoms of the condition are:

  • a high temperature (fever)
  • sore throat – this is usually more painful than any you may have had before
  • swollen glands in your neck and possibly in other parts of your body, such as under your armpits
  • fatigue (extreme tiredness)

Other symptoms

Glandular fever can also cause:

  • a general sense of feeling unwell
  • aching muscles
  • chills
  • sweats
  • loss of appetite
  • pain around or behind your eyes
  • swollen tonsils and adenoids (small lumps of tissue at the back of the nose), which may affect your breathing
  • the inside of your throat to become very red and ooze fluid
  • small red or purple spots on the roof of your mouth
  • a rash
  • swelling or "puffiness" around your eyes
  • a tender or swollen tummy
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)

Some of these symptoms may develop a few days before the main symptoms mentioned above.

How the condition progresses

Most symptoms of glandular fever will usually resolve within two or three weeks. Your throat will normally feel most sore for three to five days after symptoms start before gradually improving, and your fever will usually last 10 to 14 days.

Fatigue is the most persistent symptom and often lasts a few weeks, although some people may feel persistently fatigued for several months after the other symptoms have passed.

When to seek medical advice

You should contact your GP if you suspect that you or your child has glandular fever.

While there is little your GP can do in terms of treatment other than provide advice and support, blood tests may be needed to rule out less common but more serious causes of your symptoms, such as hepatitis (a viral infection that affects the liver).

You should go to your local accident and emergency (A&E) department or dial 999 for an ambulance if you have glandular fever and you:

  • develop a rasping breath (stridor) or have any breathing difficulties
  • find swallowing fluids difficult
  • develop intense abdominal pain

If you have these symptoms, you may need to be looked after in hospital for a few days.

Read more about treating glandular fever.

Page last reviewed: 29/10/2014

Next review due: 29/10/2016