Conditions

Norovirus Stomach Flu: How to Handle it When it Strikes

| by Toni Brayer MD

After spending a weekend in bed with self diagnosed Norovirus, I thought the information would make a great post. Norovirus is a contagious virus that causes sudden onset of nausea, vomiting, headache, body ache and feeling very very sick. It strikes 12-48 hours after exposure, either by ingesting contaminated food or water or close contact with someone who has the virus.  When you hear of a cruise ship being struck by illness or nursing homes or child care facilities...the culprit is usually Norovirus. I have no idea where I caught it. It wasn't a patient and I seldom catch anything from patients. No one else in my family was sick. I hadn't eaten out so the source will remain a mystery.

I can tell you from personal experience that like most viruses, this one starts with body aches, headache and malaise. That viral feeling is followed by vomiting and abdominal cramping. You just feel knocked out. No reading, no blogging, nothing but misery.

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Like any gastroenteritis the biggest health danger is dehydration. If a patient can replace fluid by drinking water, he will be fine. Small children or debilitated people are at most risk. The average person like me just gets over it.

The good news about Norovirus is that it only lasts about 24-48 hours. Just long enough to ruin a beautiful weekend with lots of activities planned including playing a tennis tournament and a fancy gala fundraiser for Make a Wish Foundation.

What did I do?  Complained a lot.  Washed my hands scrupulously and used bleach on surfaces to clean. Drank water followed by juice and finally ate wah wah ton soup (my sickness comfort food).  Now I'm ready for work on Monday.

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