Glandular fever

Glandular fever mostly affects teenagers and young adults. It gets better without treatment, but it can make you feel very ill and last for weeks.

See a GP if you have:

  • a very high temperature or you feel hot and shivery
  • a severe sore throat
  • swelling either side of your neck – swollen glands
  • extreme tiredness or exhaustion
  • tonsillitis that is not getting better

These are glandular fever symptoms.

You do not usually get glandular fever more than once.

What happens at your appointment

The GP might order a blood test to confirm it's glandular fever and to rule out other illnesses, like tonsillitis. This will test for the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever.

The GP will not give you antibiotics. Glandular fever is caused by a virus so antibiotics will not work.

Go to A&E or call 999 if you have:

  • difficulty swallowing
  • difficulty breathing
  • severe stomach pain

How to treat glandular fever yourself

There's no cure for glandular fever – it gets better by itself.

How to treat glandular fever yourself


How to treat glandular fever yourself


  • do not drink alcohol – your liver might be weak while you have glandular fever

How long glandular fever lasts

You should feel better within 2 to 3 weeks. Some people might feel extremely tired for months.

Try to gradually increase your activity when your energy starts to come back.

Glandular fever can cause your spleen to swell. For the first month, avoid heavy lifting and sports or activities that might increase your risk of falling, as this may damage your spleen.

How to stop glandular fever spreading

Glandular fever is spread through spit, so you can get it through kissing or by sharing cups or cutlery.

You're infectious for up to 7 weeks before you get symptoms.

You can go back to school or work as soon as you start to feel better.

To prevent glandular fever spreading:

How to stop glandular fever spreading


  • wash your hands regularly

  • wash bedding and clothes that may have spit on them

How to stop glandular fever spreading


  • do not kiss others (glandular fever is known as the kissing disease)

  • do not share cups, cutlery or towels

Glandular fever complications

Most people get better with no problems. But sometimes glandular fever may lead to other problems like: