Norovirus is a very contagious group of stomach viruses that cause vomiting and diarrhea. It is commonly referred to as the “winter vomiting bug” because this is when norovirus spreads most rapidly. Some people call norovirus the “stomach flu,” but norovirus is not related to the influenza virus that causes the flu.
How Does Norovirus Spread?
People of all ages can contract norovirus. You can also become infected multiple times in your life because many different strains of norovirus exist.
The virus spreads readily through schools, office buildings, grocery stores, and other public places. You may become infected if you:
- Eat food or drink beverages contaminated with norovirus
- Touch contaminated surfaces or objects and then put your fingers in your mouth
- Share food or eating utensils with a sick person
- Have close contact with an infected individual while providing care
The best ways to prevent spreading norovirus include:
- Regular hand washing
- Handling and preparing food safely
- Disinfecting surfaces often
- Washing contaminated laundry before reuse
Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines, a condition known as gastroenteritis. Symptoms usually develop within 12 to 48 hours after exposure to norovirus, and the illness lasts one to three days. Be aware that you remain contagious for a few days after you recover.
The most common symptoms of norovirus include:
- Stomach pain
You may also experience:
- Chills and sweating
- Body aches
Due to frequent vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration is a common complication of norovirus. Young children, older adults, and people with certain underlying conditions are most susceptible. Be on the lookout for these signs of dehydration:
- Dry mouth and throat
- Decreased need to urinate
- Dizziness when standing up
If you think someone you are caring for is severely dehydrated, call your doctor. IV fluids may be needed in severe cases.
There is currently no specific medicine for treating norovirus. The infection doesn’t respond to antibiotics or antiviral drugs, and there is also no vaccine for preventative purposes. Fortunately, you can expect to recover on your own if you have a healthy immune system. In the meantime, combat your symptoms and avoid dehydration with these treatments:
- Take over-the-counter stomach pain medicine
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce your fever
- Drink plenty of water, broth, tea, sports drinks, and other liquids
- Only eat mild food to prevent upsetting your stomach
Norovirus Care in Texas
Norovirus is typically non-life-threatening, as COVID-19 can be, but you should seek emergency medical attention if you experience severe symptoms or dehydration. Exceptional Emergency Center is a freestanding, 24-hour clinic offering norovirus treatment in Amarillo, Beaumont, Brownsville, Ft. Worth, Harlingen, Livingston, Lubbock, Port Arthur, Saches/Garland, Orange, and Tyler, TX. We encourage you to check in online for minimal wait times upon arrival.
To enjoy the best ER care in Texas, schedule an appointment with us today!