What to find out about norovirus, the abdomen flu that causes disagreeable signs


Also keep in mind that norovirus cases should only increase from here. « The kids are back in school, » which always increases the chances of spreading germs, Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University, told SELF.

People in general are interacting more these days too. “For the past few years, we have all been in semi-containment”, William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells SELF. « It gives viruses the chance to spread, and the norovirus tries to get back to near-normal levels. » Norovirus “always has some winter seasonality,” adds Dr Adalja.

The symptoms of norovirus are downright horrifying.

Let’s just say you and your toilet would become well acquainted. The CDC notes that the most common symptoms of norovirus include watery diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach cramps or pain. Some people may also have a fever, headache, or body aches.

And you can expect to feel exhausted by it all. “If I had the options, I would take three weeks of a cold, cough and fever for 48 hours of a stomach bug, because it can really drive you crazy,” Anita Gorwara, MDfamily physician and director of emergency care at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, SELF previously told.

Fortunately, you should feel better fairly quickly.

People usually develop symptoms of norovirus between 12 and 48 hours after being exposed to it. From there, the illness usually lasts between one and three days (very long). « It can make you really, really sick, » says Dr. Schaffner. « You just feel miserable. » Still, « most people recover very well, » he adds.

Unfortunately, you just have to pull this one out. There is no specific treatment for norovirus, but Dr. Adalja says you can try to feel a little better at home by taking something like Pepto-Bismol and other anti-nausea medications. Of course, it’s important to try to stay hydrated, even though eating and drinking will be difficult. Having soups and drinks you like on hand can help.

Dehydration is a risk because vomiting and diarrhea accelerate fluid loss, which can be of particular concern in very young children, older adults, and immunocompromised people.

So if you get « really, really sick » meaning you can’t keep anything in or down, you have severe pain, you have diarrhea for more than three days or you see blood in your poop or vomit, Dr. Schaffner says it’s time to seek emergency medical attention, especially if you have an underlying health condition, such as diabetes. (“Norovirus can throw your diabetes control out of whack,” he notes.) If you have symptoms of dehydration, you may need to receive IV fluids to avoid potential complications, the CDC notes.

There are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of dealing with norovirus.

Again, norovirus can be hard to avoid when it’s doing the rounds, but you still need to do your best to stay safe. The CDC recommends washing your hands well and often, especially after using the toilet, changing diapers, before giving yourself or someone else medicine, and before eating, preparing or handling food food. “Good hand hygiene is really important,” emphasizes Dr. Schaffner. « Even if a small amount of [norovirus] is on a railing or doorknob, it can make you sick. Hand sanitizer is also useful if you need something in a pinch.

If someone in your home is suffering from incessant vomiting or diarrhea, you’ll also want to clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces frequently (and immediately, if there’s an accident somewhere). Washing laundry quickly is also a smart decision.

Bottom line: Norovirus sucks, but it’s usually over quickly. Doing your best to prevent it by keeping your hands and home clean will go a long way to keeping this bug (and others) out of your future.


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