Norovirus

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What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is sometimes known as the winter vomiting bug. The virus is highly contagious and is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK and affects people of all ages. 

Between 600,000 and 1 million people a year catch the virus every year and it tends to occur more in winter, although it can occur at any time during the year. 

What are the symptoms of Norovirus?

Many people report a sudden sick feeling, followed by vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Other symptoms may include a raised temperature (over 38C/100.4F), aching limbs, stomach cramps and headaches. 

Symptoms usually appear after a 12-48 hour incubation period. Most people make a full recovery within a couple of days. It is recommended that you drink plenty of water whilst suffering from the bug to avoid becoming dehydrated. 

How do I treat Norovirus?

Although the Norovirus is unpleasant, there is no need to see your GP and it is recommended that you stay at home whilst suffering from the bug in order to avoid infecting other people.

It is suggested that you:

  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • Take paracetemol for any aches, pains or headaches
  • Try to eat foods that are easy to digest, such as soup, rice, pasta and bread. 
  • Wash your hands frequently to avoid contaminating food, drink and surfaces. 
  • Don't visit your GP or A&E - in order to avoid infecting others
  • Only seek advice from your GP if your symptoms last longer than a few days or if you already have an existing health condition. 

How to stop the virus spreading

Outbreaks are common in busy places such as schools and hospitals. The bug is highly infectious and can be easily spread through contact with an infected person, particularly when they touch food, drink or other objects. It is therefore recommended that people with the norovirus stay at home and avoid direct contact with other people. 

Where can I find extra help and advice on norovirus?

You can find extra advice on norovirus at the NHS Choices website. Alternatively, you can call NHS Direct for extra information and advice on 0845 4647.