There is a sinister bug that gets its kicks during the winter months. Sometimes referred to as the “winter vomiting bug,” norovirus can strike at any time of year but we always see an uptick of cases in the winter months. The norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis around the world. It spreads easily from person to person, from consuming contaminated food or drink, or through contact with a contaminated surface. The symptoms can take hold within 12 to 48 hours after exposure, so staying vigilant is critical as we start heading into colder months.
Noroviruses thrive in close quarters, like restaurants, day-cares, and nursing homes, and can survive extreme temperatures. This is one of the reasons it flourishes in the winter because we are all typically packed together to avoid the cold or reuniting in groups for the holidays. The virus works so quickly that you can go from feeling just fine one moment to suffering symptoms in the next. Look for these warning signs:
- Muscle aches
- Loss of taste
- Abdominal pain
- Bloated stomach
- Low-grade fever
While most of these symptoms are not lethal, symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting can deplete your body of vital fluids that keep it functioning normally. Dehydration can be a symptom of your symptoms, so it is important to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes. Since norovirus’s shelf life is typically one to three days, you should see your doctor if symptoms continue afterwards and if your vomit is green or yellow, as this could be a sign of a bowel obstruction.
Treatment and Prevention for Norovirus
Unfortunately, like other viruses, noroviruses do not respond to antibiotics, which are designed to kill bacteria. There are no antiviral drugs that can treat the norovirus. Standard treatment of norovirus includes plenty of rest, hydration, and isolation from others so you do not spread the sickness. After three days, your symptoms should start dropping off, but remember to see a doctor if they persist.
In the meantime, you can—and should—practice these basic preventatives to shield you and others:
- Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, changing a baby’s diaper, or before preparing or eating food
- Carefully throw away any contaminated items, like dirty diapers
- Wash all produce thoroughly
- Cook oysters or any shellfish before consuming
- Keep surfaces clean and disinfected.
- Make sure you clean any surfaces with a mixture of detergent and chlorine bleach after someone has been sick
- Do not prepare food for at least two to three days after you are feeling better to prevent spreading the virus
- Avoid any food that has been prepared by someone who was sick
‘Tis the Season
Practicing basic prevention and good hygiene can protect you and those around you. Stay mindful this holiday season to avoid spreading or catching this short-lived but miserable bug. We all want to see our families after a long year but doing so sick or getting sick in the process will put a damper on those holiday reunions. And remember! “Jingle Bells” is 20 seconds long and gives you something festive to hum while doing your part to prevent germs from spreading.
If you have norovirus, are exhibiting any of its symptoms, or think you have been exposed to norovirus, call the team at the BASS Medical Group. Our doctors have experience treating norovirus symptoms and can recommend the best treatment for you. Call (925) 350-4044 or visit bassmedicalgroup.com to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors today.