Norovirus, gastroenteritis, winter vomiting bug or as us health care professionals like to call it: D+V (diarrhoea and vomiting).
I’m currently sitting in my bed recovering from the latest bout that took out my entire family for a couple of days. There is nothing funny about norovirus I tell you; it’s painful, debilitating and a downright inconvenience when you have better things to be doing.
What is it:
- Norovirus is a viral infection spread via person to person contact
Who gets it:
- Norovirus can affect anyone but can be more detrimental in patients with weaker immune systems such as children and the elderly.
- It is spread via direct contact with infected patients (who might not even know they have it yet)
- Uncooked meats, food or water which may be infected with the virus
- Or contact with food or objects which have been contaminated, this can even include breathing in moisture droplets from an infected person who has just coughed.
Signs and symptoms:
- Most patients often show no symptoms for the first 24-48 hours which is why you often hear of whole cruise ship passengers being taken down as the original carrier wasn’t even are they had to isolate themselves
- Vomiting, often projectile and can be painful once you get to the just vomiting bile stage. Note this should not be bloody, if you see blood call your GP or 111
- Diarrhoea, which is usually watery, again there should be no blood. This will often clear up far quicker than the vomiting as there is usually very little left to pass out
- General tiredness and feeling unwell, this is common and will often last several days.
- Isolation, as soon as you present with the signs and symptoms isolate yourself to minimise the risk of transmission to others
- Hydration, this can be very difficult in the first few hours as everything you eat or drink just comes back up. But even small sips every 10-15 minutes can be enough, or try ice chips and keep a few in your mouth
- Diarrhoea: if you are still suffering from several bouts of loose stools, try loperamide which can be bought from any pharmacy. The instant dispersible ones are usually the best as they will dissolve right in your mouth without the need for water.
- Vomiting: cyclizine can be bought from all pharmacies, it is a pharmacy only medicine so the pharmacist ideally will need to talk to you before they are happy to supply. I wouldn’t recommend you dragging your self out of bed to your nearest pharmacy but just a phone call explaining the situation and that you are sending a representative on your behalf should be enough.
- Eating: stick to dry, unflavoured foods for the first 48 hours which are easy to digest to avoid further unsettling your stomach
- Other medicines: speak to your local pharmacist if you are taking other medicines such as certain blood pressure/water tablets, anti-inflammatory painkillers and stomach acid controlling tablets such as omeprazole. As you are currently dehydrated these medicines could harm your kidneys and you may be advised to stay off these for a few days
So you’re feeling a little better should you be going back to work/school
- The general advice is to stay away until you are 48 hours clear of the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting
- Wash and sanitise everything, your bed sheets, clothes and the bathroom to avoid further spreading
- Bin any suspicious food
- Focus on rehydrating yourself and eating bigger meals
- If you’ve stopped taking any medicines look to restarting once you feel well again