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Living with Recurring Glandular Fever
Many people who catch glandular fever (Epstein-Barr virus) recover completely, but for a significant minority, like me, the virus hides from the immune system. I believe that this ability was discovered in the late 1960s. I heard of it in a BBC science programme in the early 70s, and immediately recognised my situation.
I caught glandular fever (without complications) in spring 1967 when I was a youth. Those who are affected by recurring symptoms, will recognise my case, where the symptoms receded imperceptibly slowly. It took about 9 months from being infected before I felt more or less normal again - for a while.
I pass on my experience of coping with this condition. There is bad news and good news.
The bad news is that the symptoms recur throughout life - that is for those who have difficulty clearing the original infection. A cure might emerge, but I am assuming that this will not happen. The good news is that, in time, the symptoms become gradually less of a problem.
The bad news is that one needs to adapt one's lifestyle in order to deal with this. The good news is that one can live a normal life. There are many with other lifelong conditions, who are far worse off.
Any virus illness (cold, 'flu) will trigger the symptoms. Something as common as catching a cold runs as follows. One feels unwell (exhausted), with no symptoms. About 2 days later, the cold symptoms start, accompanied with swelling of the glands in the throat and/or cheeks. The swelling is not very noticeable to others. One has a slightly raised temperature, and feels quite ill. After 4 to 10 days, the cold symptoms and swelling subside, but the feeling of exhaustion remains. This can last 4 to 6 weeks, or 6 months after a bout of 'flu.
How can you cope? There are a number of measures.
1) Smoking exacerbates the symptoms. If you are a smoker, you will be one of those who find stopping smoking relatively easy. You will soon learn to avoid smoke-filled places.
2) Should the symptoms start, treat as for a cold, or 'flu. You will feel exhausted, and a good thing to do is to get a lot of sleep.
3) It is worth getting a 'flu vaccination, if you can.
4) Exercise - you won't feel like exercise, and it is wise to rest while the cold symptoms are there. Once they are gone, and the feeling of exhaustion remains, that is the time to resume vigorous exercise. I think it might be the raised body temperature which helps to fight off the symptoms. In the case where you go to the gym, you will have to force yourself against the feeling of exhaustion for the first time, and even the second time, but by the third time, you realise that you are much fitter. The exhaustion will go. Regular exercise helps ward off the problems, and the fitter you are, the better you will manage.
5) Avoid catching colds. You will find that you have become especially susceptible to colds. There are many things involved here, from a good, varied diet, a daily multivitamin/mineral tablet (don't overdose), cough sweets in the bus/train etc.
The best advice, and perhaps the most difficult and lifestyle threatening, is to follow what (great) grandmother told you, "Wrap up warm!" Think how she would say, "Put on your sweater/scarf/hat/woolly socks before you go out!" You think. "It is not cold outside". You know it isn't "Cool", and you don't want your friends to laugh at you.
If the summer weather is really hot, you can get away with fashionable wear. Otherwise, the bad news is that keeping warm maybe "uncool" but if you ignore this, you will suffer. Ideally, you should keep on the verge of perspiring, and if the surrounding air is fresh and cool, that is the ideal. Avoid stuffy environments. Avoid becoming too hot, sweaty and wet, and then getting chilled. However, if you can arrange to change into dry clothes and not become chilled (as when you go to the gym), all well and good!
I found these lifestyle adaptations very unwelcome. You will have to find your own way to cope. Thinking of these matters will help, and you can lead a normal life, with bouts of extreme exhaustion from time to time. Take comfort in that these will become less severe, and maybe less frequent as the years pass. Otherwise, you are quite normal. You can achieve what you are capable of intellectually, and physically. Face up to the occasional difficulties, and be determined to succeed with your life. Epstein-Barr will not prevent you.
[i:b1201028bc]This message was automatically imported from the original Patient Experience[/i:b1201028bc]
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