The norovirus is sometimes known as the stomach flu; however, the illness is unrelated to the flu. There are many different types of noroviruses, because there are many types it is possible to become infected many times. If you were infected with one type of norovirus, this does not protect you from becoming infected with other types.
What is the Norovirus?
The norovirus is highly contagious and the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis. The norovirus can also be known as food poisoning because it can be transmitted through food. Norovirus outbreaks spread rapidly, especially in schools and work.
You become infected with the norovirus if you eat or drink foods and beverages that are contaminated. Raw oysters, fruits and vegetables have caused some outbreaks. If you touch a surface that has been exposed to the virus and you touch your mouth, nose or eyes you may easily become infected.
It does not take a lot of exposure to become infected with the norovirus. This infection thrives in close quarters. Restaurants, schools, cruise ships nursing homes are areas the norovirus infection loves.
If someone infected with the norovirus vomits, the virus will spread through the air and can contaminate the surfaces around the area.
Small children and older adults with weak immune systems are more likely to catch the virus. Small children who attend schools can catch the virus or spread it quickly. You are able to spread the infection before you know you are infected.
Signs and Symptoms
The norovirus strikes hard; you will go from feeling healthy to miserable in just a day. The usual symptoms of the norovirus are nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. You may also experience symptoms such as chills, headache, muscle aches, low fever, and fatigue.
These symptoms aren’t life-threatening but experiencing diarrhea and vomiting can also cause dehydration. You may also experience malnutrition from not getting enough nutrients.
The norovirus is usually diagnosed based on your symptoms. However, if you feel like you have norovirus symptoms, your doctor can give you a stool test to officially diagnose the infection.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
The norovirus does not get better with antibiotics. Antiviral drugs cannot treat the norovirus, healthy people usually get rid of the infection in a couple of days.
To keep from getting dehydrated make sure you drink enough liquids and get plenty of electrolytes. Try to avoid sugary drinks, alcohol, and caffeine because these may worsen diarrhea.
If you experience severe dehydration, call your doctor as you may need to be treated with intravenous fluids.
How Long is the Infection Contagious?
It is possible to shed the norovirus for up to 8 weeks. As time goes on, you become less infectious. If you are symptom-free for 48 hours you may return to work or school. If you work in the food industry you may be asked to wait 72 hours before returning to work.
When to Call Your Doctor
Usually, you will start to get better on your own after 1 to 3 days. If you are still having symptoms after three days, then call your doctor. Pay close attention to dehydration symptoms and severity.
If you notice your vomit is a green or yellow color, this may be a symptom of something more serious than the norovirus. Contact your doctor right away.
Keeping up with your hygiene is the best way to prevent norovirus. Wash your hands with soap and water after going to the bathroom and before you prepare or eat food. Alcohol-based cleansers such as hand sanitizer do not work as well as traditional soap and water.
Be cautious when throwing away contaminated items like diapers and raw foods. Also, make sure to wash raw fruits and vegetables as well as cooking oysters and other shellfish before consuming them.
Always clean your countertops and other surfaces after cooking and especially if someone is sick. Use a mixture of detergent and bleach after you are sick.
Las Vegas Urgent Care
If you believe you have the norovirus and have been experiencing symptoms for over 3 days, come into Las Vegas Urgent Care for further help. We have compassionate doctors, nurses, and medical staff that help treat a number of ailments quickly and with the highest level of care. Contact us today if you have any questions about the symptoms you are experiencing.