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Also known as the stomach flu or bug, norovirus often causes painful gastrointestinal symptoms and fever, aches and headaches within days of exposure.
Symptoms can last up to 72 hours after they start, but this timeline can vary and depends on how you choose to recover at home.
While there is no specific medication for norovirus, washing your hands frequently and cleaning common areas in your home—including the bathroom and kitchen—are essential to prevent it from spreading.
Federal health officials are warning Americans that annual cases of norovirus have recently been on the rise here in the United States, for data released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Highly viral, norovirus can cause pain bouts of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in those who touch contaminated surfaces or share direct contact with someone who is sick, highlighting the need once again for strict hand washing.
According to CDC figures, more than 200 outbreaks of norovirus — which is sometimes called the stomach flu or stomach bug, although it has no official links to the flu — have occurred between Jan. August 2022 and the beginning of January 2023. This is an increase. compared to only 172 outbreaks during the same period last year, for the CDC; and positive norovirus cases continued to spike until the end of February. And it’s likely that total norovirus cases are well underreported since medical tests are required for a formal diagnosis, as CDC figures put norovirus cases in real time. closer to 20 million every year.
Norovirus tends to increase in the winter as more people go indoors, spending time indoors to fight off other seasonal illnesses. And why norovirus spreads silently via microscopic virus particles — largely when people accidentally touch an infectious surface and put their fingers in their mouths, or share food or drink with sick individuals — it can easily tear entire families apart at once, he explains. Ali Alhassani, MDpediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital and head of clinic at Hello summera digital pediatric care platform.
“Norovirus is highly contagious and it only takes a small amount of virus to infect, [so] it makes sense that all these factors combined have led to an increase in cases recently,” says Dr. Alhassani. Good cleaning.
You may end up being unlucky enough to come into contact with norovirus by eating or drinking something that is contaminated, causing foodborne illness soon after. But an important aspect to prevent this unique case from affecting loved ones in your home is disinfect high-touch surfaces in your bathroom and in the kitchenhe explains Carolyn Forteu Institute of Good HousekeepingExecutive Director of the Housekeeping and Cleaning Laboratory.
Read on to learn more about common norovirus warning signs, treating the illness effectively and how you can work to prevent others in your family from getting sick too.
Common symptoms of norovirus
Many associate the stomach flu with gastrointestinal problems that can affect daily life (and even eat!) feel impossible, causing immense pain for days on end. But federal health experts are willing to point out that norovirus can also cause it other flu-like symptoms, which should clue you to talk to your doctor to see if the norovirus may be to blame. If you have headaches or body aches alongside stomach aches for days on end, there is a chance that norovirus is at play.
This year’s norovirus outbreaks have proven consistent with past years, meaning Americans can continue to look for these two particular subsets of symptoms if they are concerned about having norovirus illness.
“Symptoms of Norovirus [primarily] includes nausea, vomit, diarrhea, stomach crampingand sometimes fever, headache and body pain“explains Dr. Alhassani. “These symptoms are relatively consistent with other strains of the past years.”
Diarrhea and vomiting can be particularly worrisome because they can easily occur leads to dehydration, which can cause a worse condition for things like dizziness and dry mouth. Younger children may not be able to express their thirst at this time, and caregivers will see a lack of tears during frustrated cries if this is also the case.
Since someone can experience a few of the distinctive symptoms of norovirus infections as standalone issues, you may be wondering if your GI discomfort is related to norovirus or something else. more fleeting. There is no bonafide way to tell, but doctors say that the easiest way to distinguish between norovirus and less gastrointestinal distress. is how the problem persists.
“Norovirus symptoms usually appear 12 to 48 hours after exposure, but temporary stomach upset symptoms appear much faster – within a couple of hours,” adds Dr. Alhassani. “However, the symptoms of an upset stomach subside within 24 hours at most, which is not the case for norovirus infections.”
To recap, this is the full list of potential norovirus symptoms as noted from CDC officials:
It is crucial to remember that norovirus – which is only one example of enterovirus, a group of viruses that can have an impact on the gastrointestinal tract – may require practical medical assistance and, in some cases, hospitalization if symptoms are severe and left unchecked.
How long does norovirus last?
Unlike other annoying problems such as food sensitivity or poor quality food, norovirus disease usually does not produce. immediate symptoms; it may be a few days before the symptoms listed above appear in affected individuals. Dr. Alhassani says that most norovirus cases cause symptoms to appear between 12 and 48. hours after exposure.
Not all illnesses caused by norovirus are the same, which means that some individuals may have more severe symptoms based on their own exposure, as well as any pre-existing health conditions. If you currently have norovirus disease, you should expect to feel extremely ill and experience ongoing gastrointestinal problems throughout the day. Feeling nauseous continuously or experiencing chronic diarrhea is expected, for example, until the disease has run its course.
How does norovirus spread?
In simple terms, norovirus can spread through feces, vomit, and other bodily excretions—and more often, through small virus particles that remain transmissible on a contaminated surface. CDC officials are taking note that those who are affected can “shed billions of norovirus particles” that are naked to the eye, and only a relatively small amount of these viral particles can infect another otherwise healthy individual.
People are most contagious when they have symptoms, as well as during the first days of recovery when symptoms have largely subsided, according to the published research.
Because viral norovirus particles can easily contaminate surfaces – including food that may be placed on imported surfaces in the kitchen – keeping your hands thoroughly washed if you are sick it is crucial. Your family also needs to keep an eye on the rest of your home; both Clorox and Lysol make products that can effectively kill traces of norovirus on surfaces when used according to the manufacturer’s directions, our Good Cleaning Laboratory say the experts.
“Food preparation and food contact surfaces are important as are most touch areas in the bathroom and kitchen, including faucet handles, appliance handles, cabinets and drawers, light switches and shower knobs,” explains Forté. “And most of these products recommend rinsing after use on food contact surfaces, such as counters and the table of the child’s high chair. Be sure to check the indications use on food contact surfaces”.
Using a cleaning product versus a disinfectant spray requires different approaches – but whatever product you use at home to prevent the spread of norovirus, make sure to thoroughly clean the surfaces first, then keep them moist with the disinfectant for as long as necessary. For example, Purell’s Multi-surface disinfectant requires a surface to be wet with a detergent for 30 seconds to a minute to disinfect completely.
“Follow the instructions for the use of the products by keeping the surface moist for the necessary time to be sure that the product completely kills the germs,” adds Forté.
Finally, it is important to note that hand sanitizers does not always work to eliminate the risk of norovirus, and should not be substituted for hand washing, according to the CDC.
How to treat norovirus at home
The only way to confirm if you have a norovirus infection is to seek medical attention from your doctor or a qualified emergency clinic, where a PCR test will confirm the presence of the virus. There is no particular medication used to treat norovirus alone, but more medical attention may be needed to treat it severe dehydration caused by chronic vomiting and diarrhea.
Staying well hydrated while you recover is essential, working in plenty of water and other fortifying drinks to help your body recover, adds Dr. Alhassani. Using over-the-counter products like Tylenol or Advil can ease non-gastrointestinal problems while you recover.
“Eating foods that are easier to digest—think items like crackers, toast, rice, and potatoes, for example—are helpful with GI distress,” he says. “Most importantly, practicing good hand hygiene will help prevent illness and keep other people in the home from catching it too.”
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