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Get The Facts About Norovirus Symptoms

Norovirus belongs to the family of Caliciviridae and is responsible for gastroenteritis in 19–21 million people per year in the USA. Though this virus is prominent in winter still, it can affect anyone in any season. Norovirus is highly contagious and commonly spreads through the feces and vomit of infected people and animals. People may get this virus by:

  • Eating contaminated foods
  • Consuming contaminated water
  • Touching an infected person or surface and then using the same hand on their mouth

 

Norovirus Causes

A person can get infected with norovirus in multifarious ways. The prime cause of norovirus infection is contaminated food in the USA.

norovirus symptoms

The virus thrives when an infected person touches food before serving it to others. Some food items, including oysters and other seafood, are naturally contaminated with norovirus.

Norovirus First Symptoms

Nausea is the first symptom of norovirus.

Other common symptoms are:

1. Vomiting

2. Stomach ache

3. Abdominal cramps

4. Diarrhea or watery stool

5. Extremely lethargy

6. Mild fever and chills

7. Body aches

8. Headaches

When the symptoms are prominent, people may feel sick and vomit frequently. According to the CDC, the symptoms usually stay up to 3 days and appear between 12 and 48 hours after getting contaminated. Sometimes, you may experience diarrhea for more than 3 days.

Though your symptoms may disappear within a few days, the virus can still spread through the stool for up to 2 weeks.

This virus has no complications. In most cases, the symptoms resolve within a few days. Some less common complications are,

  • Malnutrition
  • Constipation
  • Dyspepsia
  • Reflux

 

Some people may become dehydrated due to extreme diarrhea; hence, they need special medical attention and should be treated cautiously.

Norovirus Treatment

There is no specific treatment for norovirus gastroenteritis. Doctors try to suppress the symptoms and prevent dehydration. Fasting is not recommended for people who are infected with this virus. People with norovirus must follow a light diet that contains food items that should be easy to digest. These food items could be rice, bread, soups, and pasta. Infants can continue their regular diet if they got infected with norovirus.

A person needs to take a lot of fluid as he/she loses it through vomiting or diarrhea. Children and older adults should be treated carefully and must consume adequate fluid to prevent dehydration. They are more susceptible to getting dehydrated. Oral rehydration fluids are also beneficial in preventing dehydration. Some popular fluids are Infalyte, Kao electrolyte, Naturalyte, Oralyte, and Pedialyte.

Dehydration could be life-threatening for some people. Dehydrated people who can’t consume adequate fluids should get fluids intravenously.

Risk Factors

The below-mentioned things may enhance a person’s chance of getting an infection with the norovirus.

  • Having a damaged immune system (people who have performed an organ transplant and suffering from HIV)
  • Staying in a house whose members don’t follow hygiene practices
  • Living with a child who goes to a child care center or preschool
  • Stay in a hotel, cruise ship, or resort where many people gather at the same time
  • Staying in a closed or semi-closed community, such as a nursing home, hospital, or retirement center

 

Prevention

To reduce the spread of norovirus, many experts believe that common food hygiene practices are necessary for all. The below-mentioned steps may reduce a person’s chances of norovirus infection:

1. Handwashing

Wash your hands frequently with soap and lukewarm water to minimize the risks of infection. You must follow this practice after going to the washroom, changing a diaper or before preparing meals.

2. Clean Surfaces

Everyone should use bleach-based household cleaners to clean their houses. If possible, keep the bleach on the surface for about 10 minutes. People who have been infected with norovirus often experience vomiting violently, without warning. Thus, all surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected properly, as the vomit can be infectious.

3. Avoid Risky Foods

people should discard foods like shellfish that may have come from contaminated waters. They should stay away from foods that are being prepared by an infected person with norovirus. Before eating fruits and vegetables, wash them thoroughly.

4. Remove Infected Feces and Vomit

Everyone should flush away their infected products and clean the surrounding toilet area after finishing their work.

5. Wash Clothing and Bedclothes

If your clothes have become contaminated, you should rinse them with hot soapy water.

6. Stay at Home

to curb the spread of norovirus, avoid public contact. This is more important for people who are suffering from norovirus and work in the food processing industry.

7. Using Disposable Towels

caregivers (especially of an infected person) must use disposable paper towels to dry their hands. Because the virus remains active on objects for some time.

8. Take Care while Traveling

If you need to travel to a developing nation or place, use only bottled water for your regular activities (including brushing your teeth). Try to avoid buffets and semi-cooked or uncooked foods.

Diagnosis of Norovirus

By checking your symptoms, a doctor usually diagnoses norovirus. By testing a stool sample, this virus is also confirmed. But in most cases, the test is not required.

When to Consult a Doctor

You need proper medical attention if you develop diarrhea that doesn’t resolve within several days. Inform your doctor if you experience frequent vomiting, bloody stools, stomach pain or dehydration.

The Bottom Line

Though norovirus infection is not life-threatening, if you develop severe diarrhea, then you may get dehydrated which could be lethal. The best way to avoid this virus is to follow proper hand and food hygiene. 

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