How I Manage Recurring Glandular Fever + My Journey

In 2013 I was diagnosed with Glandular Fever, also known as Infectious Mononucleosis (or mono). I thought, it’s not that serious right? Little did I know that it was also a recurring virus that would affect me for years to come.  For those who are unaware of what Glandular Fever is, it’s an Epstein-Barr Virus that affects your glands, muscles, immune system and energy levels for up to 18 months, and can stay dormant in your system for the rest of your life. It is usually transmitted through saliva and is diagnosed by taking a blood test. Glandular Fever puts you in bed and can take from days to weeks to recover. But unfortunately, as it can stay in your system forever, it also has the ability to keep affecting you for months to years later. Or in my case, 4 years later…

Glandular Fever affects everyone differently, but for me it crashed my immune system, my liver, my glandes and lymph nodes, and my energy levels. After I was diagnosed, I was bed-ridden for only about 5-7 days before I was up and back to my busy lifestyle – my final year at high school. Little did I know that from then on, I would get recurring symptoms and develop intolerances to certain common foods.

How Glandular Fever Affected Me in the Long Term

Diet

I used to wake up every morning and have my weet-bix, milk and banana. I used to eat salad sandwiches and enjoyed melted cheese jaffles and pizza on weekends. Eventually I realised that these types of foods were making me feel really crappy. They would put me in bad moods, make me bloated, constipated, and gave me stomach cramps from time to time. Eventually I went to a naturopath and found out that I was intolerant (but not allergic) to gluten and dairy (casein). I cut out these foods and found myself feeling more alive. Since then, I’ve added more foods containing probiotics, more vegetables and eggs, and I’ve stopped eating as much processed food, preservatives and artificial sugars.

Immune System

While cutting these food groups out helped my tummy feel better for a while, something was still never right. At this stage (about a year after diagnosis), I hadn’t even realised my ‘problems’ were linked to my previous glandular fever. I started to become more aware of my low immunity and chronic fatigue about 2 years later, when I realised I was getting sick and fatigued all the time – I’m talking once a month during the busy times of the year.  

Picture this: How often do you work up a sweat during a workout? or decide to have a few drinks with your girlfriends on the weekend? What about how often you finally ‘stop’ after a busy period (end of semesters at uni etc)? And how often is the common flu going around? In all of these scenarios, my body will literally shut down every time something like this happens in my life – yes, it’s quite frequent. First, I’ll get a sore throat and my muscles will become sore for no reason at all sometimes. My energy levels hit an all time low – unless I sleep for literally 10+ hours a night. Then my sinuses clog up and my ears become blocked. After usually 3-4 days (if I’m lucky and look after myself) I develop a chesty cough that will last around 3-4 weeks! This still happens to this day, but is less frequent than it used to be, based on my self-management skills.

I decided to reach out and do some research around this time of realisation, and found a few other people had the same symptoms years after having glandular fever. Then I put two and two together. It was a relief to at least know why I was constantly feeling like sh*t – thank you Glandular Fever (*sarcasm*)! Now I just had to learn how to manage it.

How I Manage Recurring Glandular Fever Now

Number one is knowing my limits. It took a couple of years but I’m good at knowing my limits now – whether it’s how many drinks I can have, how far I can push in my workouts, how much I can take on in my weekly schedule, or how many emotional stresses I involve myself in. I finally know when to stop and take time for myself to recover. Each night, I generally have to get 9 hours of sleep or I feel tired, lethargic and sometimes grumpy. I take muti-vitamins, immunity vitamins and magnesium when I feel I need it. I’ve also recently gotten into doTERRA essential oils, and I use the oil blend called OnGuard on the back of my neck, internally (in the form of beadlets) and as a throat gargle. I’ll post more on this later.

I went through a stage where I was taking a lot of supplements including probiotics, and vitamins for immunity, vitamin A, D, B12, C, magnesium and so on.. all prescribed by a qualified naturopath. I’ve had many blood tests to monitor my levels, and I’ve tried a few different things like the GAPS diet, Paleo diet, Vegan diet and more. Because I struggle to stick to specific diets, I’ve discovered the best way is to simply listen to your body and try your hardest to maintain a healthy diet. For me, this consists primarily of fruits, vegetables and protein (combination of a paleo/vegan diet). Gluten and dairy aren’t part of my diet, and I’m currently working on cutting out refined and artificial sugars. I still see a naturopath regularly, and monitor how different foods and activities make me feel. I don’t think I’ll ever eat gluten or dairy again regularly, even if I become tolerant to them again. I just can’t wait for the day that I can finally say I haven’t been sick all year (I suppose I could say it now technically, he he).

What You Can Do

If you’re suffering from Glandular Fever, recurring Glandular Fever, or if you’ve been through something like this, just remember it does get better. Everyone’s journey is different, as everyone’s body is different. The most important thing is to listen to your body. Remember, Glandular Fever can stay in your system for your entire life, flaring up when you are fatigued or stressed. Some people may get regular symptoms such as chronic fatigue after exercising, or catching the common flu/virus. Others will experience the bed-ridden weeks of the virus all over again every once a year or so.

My Best Advice…

If you haven’t yet, you should definitely look into healing yourself from the inside out – starting with your gut health. Your gut is connected to every part of your being. Feed your gut proper food and you’ll absorb the required nutrients, helping to heal you mentally and physically. recurring glandular fever

Rest. Resting is your best friend when you feel like you’ve reached your limit. Take a day to just lay around and relax. Don’t feel guilty, who cares if you skip leg day once? Your health is more important. You need to listen to your body and do what’s best for you. Get an early night and spend some time reading a book. I promise it will help.

Please don’t ever hesitate to contact me for advice about anything that’s worrying you to do with your immunity, diet or mental health. I’m always here to listen. If you’re comfortable, please also comment any tips you have, any experiences, or any questions regarding glandular fever! ♥ recurring glandular fever