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This week we respond to questions about mononucleosis and questions about painful urination.

Dear HOUSE Calls,    

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I was told by my doctor that I have mono. I saw her because I was fatigued and I had a mono test that was positive. But I have not had fever or sore throat. Do I really have mono?

This is a complicated question because when we refer ‘mono’ we are generally revering to a set of conditions with common clinical features.

We used to call this the ‘kissing disease’. The most common cause of mono in adolescents and young adults is Ebstein Barr Virus, or EBV. The hallmarks are fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes.

After recovery from the acute infection, fatigue can lasts for weeks or longer. This is probably why your doctor checked you for mono. It would be unlikely to have had mono without at least some of the hallmark symptoms, perhaps you mentioned you had them several weeks ago?

To really answer the question in full, we would need to know more about your symptoms, your exam, and what kind of mono test your doctor ordered. There is a test known as the mono-spot test which is a simple positive or negative test that usually remains positive for many years after infection. There are specific antibody titers which can show more recent or past infections with somewhat more clarity. There are also supportive blood tests like liver function tests and some characteristics of the blood count that indicate infection with EBV.

It is also important that you and your doctor keep in mind that there are 100’s of cause for fatigue—anemia, sleep apnea, depression, diabetes, and thyroid conditions to name a few. Keep track of your symptoms, and if you are not feeling better, go back and see your doctor.

Dear HOUSE Calls,    

I went to the doctor recently with burning when I urinate. My urinalysis came back negative though for a urinary tract infection.  What do I have?

That is another good question. Usually a urinary tract infection (UTI) is fairly easy to diagnose from a urinalysis.  Occasionally, however, the tests are indeterminate and a urine culture helps us to be more certain.

However, there a number of other conditions that can burning with urination.  Other causes include: inflammation from a recent UTI (which your body recovered from without treatment), dehydration, urethritis from sexually transmitted infections (gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes most commonly), vaginal irritation from yeast or bacterial vaginitis (if the writer is a woman), trauma or direct irritation, and interstitial cystitis.

If the symptoms persist or recur, go back and see your doctor. Perhaps she or he can localize the symptoms. You may need other testing or referral to a specialist.

HOUSE Calls is a weekly column by Dr. Adam Goldstein, Dr. Cristy Page, and Dr. Adam Zolotor on behalf of YOUR HEALTH™ and the UNC Department of Family Medicine.

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Rose Hoban is the founder and editor of NC Health News, as well as being the state government reporter. Hoban has been a registered nurse since 1992, but transitioned to journalism after earning degrees...