DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 24-year-old sales rep who is recovering from mononucleosis. I need to know a couple of things about this illness. How can I find out who I caught it from? How long do I rest? Can I ever resume an active sports life? – R.T.

ANSWER: Infectious mononucleosis – mono – is something just about everyone has had, whether they know it or not. Infections in young children produce few symptoms, and parents are unlikely to be aware that the child has been infected. However, 90 percent of adults have antibodies to the mono virus, and that is evidence of previous infection.

You won’t be able to track down the person from whom you caught mono. It’s passed in saliva, and kissing is cited as the way most infections are transmitted, but kissing is not the only way to transfer saliva. Adding to the confusion of finding the source of infection is mono’s long incubation period: one to two months. Few remember what they were doing two months ago. Furthermore, people who appear to be perfectly healthy can still pass the virus long after their infection. Forget the sleuthing. You’re wasting your time.

Mono’s prominent signs and symptoms are sore throat, fever, swollen and tender lymph nodes (especially those in the neck) and fatigue.

You can stop resting as soon as you feel you can (that’s usually three weeks). In another three weeks, you can start exercising, but do so at a lesser level than what you were doing before you got sick. After a week of exercising, you can resume your sports activities, though you shouldn’t resume contact sports until your doctor says you can. Mono often enlarges the spleen. A large spleen can rupture from trauma. The spleen has to return to normal before you can bump or be bumped.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am writing in hope that adults with pertussis (whooping cough) benefit from my husband’s experience with it. Not only did he whoop when he coughed, but he felt like he was being strangled. He went to the doctor, who said he looked fine. Once, he fainted after a coughing spell. I plead with you to share this with your readers. Until you see pertussis, you cannot believe how bad it is. – R.S.

ANSWER: Ask just about anyone, and he or she will tell you whooping cough is a childhood illness. It used to be, but now, thanks to childhood immunizations, it has become an adult thing.

Pertussis vaccine’s protection is not lifelong, so adults are susceptible to it. An adult with a prolonged, severe cough should be suspected as having whooping cough. Many times in adults, the typical whooping noise that is heard after a cough in childhood is not there.

There is a new adult pertussis vaccine. It’s combined with tetanus vaccine, and it is highly protective against whooping cough. It is given to all people between the ages of 11 and 64.

I just did an item on pertussis a short time ago, but the subject is important enough to bear a repeat.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I always wanted to fly a plane but never got the opportunity during World War II. My older brother bugs me by saying I could not have qualified because of malocclusion of my teeth. Is this true? Why are teeth so important in flying? – C.S.

ANSWER: I don’t think your big brother is right. The Federal Aviation Administration is responsible for licensing pilots and for setting the medical standards for them. On its Web site – – I couldn’t find malocclusion listed as a disqualifying condition. Check my research. I consider you a dear friend, C.S., but I can’t spend any more time trying to find the definite answer. I don’t know how to contact the Air Force for its input.

You’re not thinking of applying to the Air Force Academy, are you? I do believe there are age requirements that might make you unacceptable.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from

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