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ASK THE DOC: What are the symptoms of norovirus, and how do I protect myself from it?


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Close up of young african woman touching her belly, suffering from menstrual abdomen cramps, grey background
Close up of young african woman touching her belly, suffering from menstrual abdomen cramps, grey background

Q. What are the symptoms of norovirus, and how do I protect myself from it?

A. Norovirus is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK, writes Dr Laura Ryan, NHS 24 medical director.

It can cause diarrhoea and vomiting and is also called the “winter vomiting bug” because it’s more common in winter, although you can catch it at any time of the year.

Norovirus can be very unpleasant but usually clears up by itself in a few days.

You can normally look after yourself or your child at home.

You’re likely to have Norovirus if you experience suddenly feeling sick; projectile vomiting; watery diarrhoea.

Some people also have a slight fever, headaches, painful stomach cramps and aching limbs.

The symptoms appear one to two days after you become infected and typically last for up to two or three days.

Norovirus spreads very easily in public places and you can catch it if small particles of vomit or stools (poo) from an infected person get into your mouth through close contact with someone who may breathe out small particles of the virus that you then inhale; touching contaminated surfaces or objects; eating contaminated food, which can happen if an infected person doesn’t wash their hands before preparing or handling food.

It’s not always possible to avoid getting norovirus, but to help stop the virus spreading you should stay off work or school until at least 48 hours after symptoms have stopped; avoid visiting anyone in hospital during this time; wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water particularly after using the toilet and before preparing or handling food.

Be aware alcohol-based hand gels don’t kill the virus.

Practicing good hygiene is a great way to prevent the spread of Norovirus as well as the spread of other infectious diseases.

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