Mononucleosis, commonly known as “mono” or “the kissing disease,” is an infectious illness caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). This viral infection is typically spread through saliva, which is why it’s often associated with kissing. However, mono can also be transmitted through shared utensils, coughing, and sneezing. Mono primarily affects teenagers and young adults, but anyone can contract the virus.
In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of Mononucleosis and how to recognize them, how to perform the mono test at home, how to check the results, and many more. Let’s go to the topic.
Purpose of Mono Test
The Main Purpose of the Mono test is to detect heterophile antibodies in the blood, which can confirm the presence of infectious mononucleosis caused by a contagious Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) virus. In the first week after infection, heterophile antibodies are present in 40 to 60% of mono patients. By the third or fourth week after infection, they are present in 80 to 90% of patients. These antibodies typically remain detectable for up to three months, although they may be present for as long as a year following the infection.
While the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the most common cause of this disease, other viruses can also be responsible.
Though mono can be diagnosed based on symptoms, experts recommend laboratory tests, including mononucleosis testing, EBV antibody tests, and a complete blood count, to confirm the diagnosis.
When Should I Go for Mono Test?
Symptoms of mononucleosis can range from mild to severe, and they may not appear until four to six weeks after exposure to the virus. When you see the mono symptoms, you can go for the test. Some common symptoms include
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches
- Enlarged spleen
Conducting Mono Test at Home
There are various at-home test kits available for suspected cases of infectious mononucleosis. These kits can be purchased online and provide the necessary materials for collecting a blood sample using a finger prick. Generally, there are two types of test kits:
1. Self-Testing Mono Kits
Self-testing kits, involve collecting a drop of blood and placing it onto a test strip. The testing device then shows the results, usually within 3-5 minutes, via an indicator window.
2. Self-Collection Kits:
Self-collection kits, which require gathering a blood sample and mailing it to the testing company for laboratory analysis. The results are reported through a secure online platform, usually within a few days.
To ensure accurate results, it’s important to follow these instructions when using an at-home mono test kit:
Mono Test Procedure at Home:
- Allow the specimen and test kit to reach room temperature before testing. Also, make sure to mix the blood specimen well.
- Open the foil-wrapped pouch and remove the cassette, placing it on a flat, clean surface. Use the test as soon as possible or within one hour of opening.
- Hold the dropper vertically and transfer the required drops of the sample to the sample well on the cassette. Then, add one drop of buffer and start the timer.
- Wait for the colored line(s) to appear. Read the results after five minutes. Do not interpret the result after 10 minutes.
- The test works by immobilizing bovine erythrocyte extracted antigen in the test line region of the device.
During testing, a specimen reacts with bovine erythrocyte-extracted antigen-coated particles that have been applied to the labeled pad. This mixture then migrates chromatographically along the length of the test and interacts with the immobilized bovine erythrocyte-extracted antigen. If the specimen contains IM heterophile antibodies, a colored line will appear in the test line region, indicating a positive result. However, if the specimen does not contain IM heterophile antibodies, a colored line will not appear in this region, indicating a negative result.
To ensure the accuracy of the test, a colored line will always appear in the control line region, indicating that the proper volume of the specimen has been added and that membrane wicking has occurred.
Interpreting Your Mono Test Results
The duration of the mono test results depends on the type of test used. Typically, results are available within 5 to 10 minutes, although some tests may take up to an hour.
A positive at-home mono test result indicates the presence of EBV antibodies in your sample, suggesting a mono-infection. Keep in mind that false positives can occur, so it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a definitive diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
A negative result means that the test did not detect EBV antibodies in your sample. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re free of the virus, as false negatives can occur, especially in the early stages of the infection. If you continue to experience mono-like symptoms, consult with a healthcare professional.
If the test results are inconclusive or difficult to interpret, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and testing.
Benefits of At-Home Mono Testing
At-home mono tests offer convenience by allowing individuals to test for mono without visiting a healthcare professional or lab. This can save time and effort, especially for those with busy schedules or limited access to healthcare facilities.
Performing a mono test at home provides a level of privacy that might not be available in a clinical setting. This can be particularly beneficial for those who prefer to keep their health matters confidential.
At-home mono tests generally provide results within minutes, allowing individuals to quickly determine if they need to seek further medical attention or not.
Is Mono Test at Home 100% Correct?
While the mono test is generally effective in detecting the presence of heterophile antibodies, it can produce false-negative results under specific circumstances. A false-negative result occurs when the test result is negative despite the patient having infectious mononucleosis.
Patients may receive a false-negative result if the test is done too soon, typically within one to two weeks after the illness begins. Additionally, mono tests may produce false-negative results in infants and children under four years old.
Although rare, there is evidence that the mono test may incorrectly indicate the presence of infectious mononucleosis in patients with other diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma, pancreatic cancer, lupus, HIV infection, rubella (a type of measles), and herpes simplex virus. In such cases, Epstein-Barr virus antibody tests are generally preferred for diagnosing infectious mononucleosis.
At-home mono tests offer a convenient and private way to screen for mononucleosis. While they may not be as accurate as professional tests, they can serve as a useful tool in determining whether further medical attention is needed. Always consult with a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your health or the results of an at-home mono test.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I trust the results of an at-home mono test?
At-home mono tests can provide valuable information, but they may not be as accurate as professional tests. Always consult with a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your health or the results of your test.
2. How soon after exposure can I take an at-home mono test?
Symptoms of mono may not appear until four to six weeks after exposure. It’s best to wait until you experience symptoms before taking an at-home mono test to improve the accuracy of the results.
3. Can I get a false positive or false negative result with an at-home mono test?
Yes, false positives and false negatives can occur with at-home mono tests. Always consult with a healthcare professional for a definitive diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
4. Can I use an at-home mono test to determine if I’ve had mono in the past?
At-home mono tests are designed to detect active infections, not past infections. Consult with a healthcare professional if you’re interested in determining if you’ve had mono in the past.