The more that you rest up in the early stages of glandular fever, the better your chance of a complete recovery.
Q. My 19-year-old son has contracted glandular fever. The doctor has told us that there is no specific time frame for recovery, and we will just have to wait and see.
Is there anything that we can do to help? He is exhausted all of the time and is due to start college this month.
A. Glandular fever, caused by Epstein Barr virus, is most commonly diagnosed in the 15-25 year age group. Unfortunately, at this age it does have a significant impact on the ability to carry on with study and/or work.
Most people initially brush it off as a bad dose of the flu, since the symptoms are very similar, until it becomes obvious that the illness is dragging out for a lot longer than any flu.
The overwhelming exhaustion you describe is common to all sufferers, along with sore throat, swollen glands in the neck, and a fever.
Antibiotics should not be prescribed for this illness as they do not aid recovery from a viral infection.
For some, antibiotics can make glandular fever worse in the long run.
It is also worth noting that often people seem to make a recovery, and then can experience a relapse some weeks later.
Bed rest is crucial to recovery, as is a nutritious diet.
In fact, the more that you rest up in the early stages of glandular fever, the better your chance of a complete recovery.
Candida overgrowth can occur alongside this illness, and it can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome or ME.
Junk foods, processed foods, sugary snacks, fried foods, fizzy drinks, caffeine, and alcohol should all be avoided.
Obviously, if your son has any intolerances, sensitivities, or allergies to certain foods or substances, these should also be left out.
Juicing is a great way to load up on nutrients — carrots, beetroot, celery, green apple, and if you can pop in a garlic clove or small chunk of fresh ginger root this would certainly help to support the recovery process.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are important, but slow-cooked meals, soups, and broths will also be of great help.
Liquorice root tea is great for supporting the adrenals, which get an absolute hammering from glandular fever (not to be taken by people with high blood pressure or heart conditions).
Drinking plenty of water daily to help flush the system is a good idea as well.
As far as natural remedies go vitamin C is a great place to start.
With the symptoms still being acute at present, he will need to take around 5,000mg to 6,000mg daily in 1,000mg increments throughout the day.
If this triggers diarrhoea, then simply reduce the dosage by 1,000mg until bowel tolerance is reached.
Ascorbic acid is a common form of vitamin C, however sodium ascorbate (which has a slightly salty taste) is often preferred when taking it in larger doses since this is gentler on the stomach.
Anti-viral herbal remedies are also a good supplement to consider — astragalus, goldenseal root, Siberian ginseng, and echinacea are all widely available.
Also worth noting is the Amazonian camu-camu berry, which is high in vitamin C and is a potent antiviral. Rio Health’s camu-camu capsules are available from health stores where 60 x 500mg vegecaps cost €14.75.
Your son will likely be depleted in nutrients since his body is using everything it can muster to fight this infection, so it might also help to use a general multisupplement or tonic.
A liquid preparation is often easiest, such as the Oxylent Multivitamin, multimineral, amino acid, antioxidant, and electrolyte effervescent drink sachets.
These come in mandarin, sparkling berry, and blackberry pomegranate flavours and are available from health stores — 30 sachets cost €29.95.
If tests show he is iron-deficient then the Floradix or Floravital herbal tonic preparations would be a better choice than Oxylent.
Above all, he should rest up as much as possible, keep well hydrated, and re turn to regular activity gradually to avoid a relapse.
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