These are the symptoms of the Pfeiffer’s glandular fever


Pfeiffer’s glandular fever has a relatively constant and recognizable course, which typically occurs with every initial infection. Nevertheless, the disease remains inconspicuous for a long time, as it does not differ significantly from a mixed picture of other viral and bacterial diseases. In most cases, the temporal course and the typical combination of symptoms finally lead the physician to the correct diagnosis.


Among the typical symptoms are

  • A long period of general exhaustion. Those affected often feel tired and more exhausted than usual. This listlessness begins before the feverish period and continues beyond it.
  • Within the actual or obvious phase of the disease, fever occurs, with temperatures rising to between 38.5 and 39 degrees Celsius. – whitish deposits on the strongly reddened and visibly enlarged pharyngeal tonsils
  • A swelling of many lymph nodes in the head and neck area. These are then painful under pressure and noticeably enlarged.
  • In about half of all cases, there is a swelling of the spleen, which in the worst case can reach so far that the spleen capsule of the affected person ruptures. – untypical or unspecific symptoms may also occur. These include a skin rash and itching

The already mentioned symptoms, with some peculiarities, also occur in children.

  • Within the actual or obvious phase of the illness, a fever occurs, with temperatures around 38.5 to 39 degrees. The fever can also be somewhat less severe in children. – whitish deposits on the strongly reddened and visibly enlarged pharyngeal tonsils
  • A swelling of many lymph nodes in the head and neck area.

These are then painful under pressure and noticeably enlarged. – A period of general exhaustion is difficult to pin down in children. It often lasts for a shorter time than in adults.

  • Especially with small children, however, the entire list of symptoms can be invalid. In these cases, the disease proceeds asymptomatically, although an infection with the pathogen is present. A characteristic and constant point in the chronic form of the disease is the long-lasting tiredness.

In contrast to the acute infection, where it lasts for several weeks, most chronically ill patients suffer from this tiredness or exhaustion later on for months, in extreme cases even years. In other respects, statements regarding typical symptoms are unfortunately almost impossible. The chronic form is so multifaceted that the correct diagnosis of “chronic glandular fever” is often a coincidental finding.

Explanation of the individual symptoms

Although the fatigue is in itself a very unspecific symptom, it is typical of Pfeiffer’s glandular fever. Of course, not everyone who suffers from increasing fatigue is now suffering from mononucleosis (the medical term for Pfeiffer’s glandular fever). However, the majority of those infected show this symptom.

The fatigue typically lasts for several weeks and appears as a symptom both before and after the febrile phase of the disease. Swollen lymph nodes, which are enlarged and painful under pressure, are an indication of local, acute activation of the immune system to fight a pathogen. Mainly the lymph nodes in the neck and face area are affected, which can be palpated quite easily.

Typically, there is a symmetrical swelling of the lymph nodes. The swollen, reddened pharyngeal tonsils with grey-white coatings are also one of the typical symptoms of mononucleosis. At the same time, however, this symptom also carries the risk of confusing it with another disease.

A large number of bacterial diseases are accompanied by purulent tonsillitis. Treatment with antibiotics is then not indicated in the case of Pfeiffer’s glandular fever, as it is a viral disease. The tonsillitis recedes of its own accord in the case of Pfeiffer’s glandular fever, but it takes some time.

This symptom occurs in about half of all affected persons. Spleen swelling is a dangerous organ involvement of the disease, as it can grow into a life-threatening situation if the spleen capsule ruptures. If the rupture is detected too late, massive blood loss can occur due to the very good blood circulation situation of the spleen.

However, this complication occurs very rarely. In rare cases, the liver may also be affected. Either the pathogen itself can cause the destruction of liver cells or blood accumulates back into the liver, which also leads to the destruction of liver cells.

This process is shown by increasing liver values from the blood. The measured values are different proteins, which only occur in the liver. If the liver cells are destroyed, they enter the bloodstream where they can be detected.

A rash is a symptom that does not occur very often in connection with glandular fever. It can lead to unidentifiable rashes on the trunk of the body. These are reddened and may itch, but do not contain any infectious secretion.

Whether this rash is an allergy or the exact cause of it has not yet been fully researched. Furthermore, bleeding the size of a pinhead in the mouth and throat area can occur. This picture could possibly be misinterpreted as a rash.

However, the reason for this is an insufficient number of functional blood platelets. The itching, together with a skin rash, can be an indication that the Pfeiffer’s glandular fever has been mistakenly confused with a bacterial disease. Some patients react to antibiotics in mononucleosis with a rash and itching.

In this context one could speak of an allergic reaction to the antibiotic. This is often the case with treatment with penicillin. Therefore, self-treatment with medication available at home should be avoided and a doctor should be consulted to avoid such incidents.