Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava
Did you know?
- Your stomach contains trillions of both good and bad bacteria. Good bacteria promote your gut health
- Digestion does not start in your stomach, but in the small intestines
- You can go upside down and eat your food. Gravity has no effect
- The intestines are also known as your body’s ‘second brain‘
What is norovirus?
The stomach is one of the most important organs in the body as it protects you from several viruses as the food enter the stomach and also houses about 70% of your entire immune system. Thus, anything you eat or drink has a direct impact on the well-being of your stomach which influences the health of other organs in the body.
Stomach-related illnesses such as diarrhoea, vomiting, or stomach pain are more prevalent during the winter. These illnesses mostly arise when the body gets infected by a virus called ‘Norovirus’. Norovirus is also termed as the stomach flu or stomach bug, but, the illness is not linked to the influenza virus, which is a respiratory infection.
The medical term for norovirus is ‘gastroenteritis’, an intestinal infection that gives rise to complications like diarrhoea, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fever. The virus spreads through the faeces and vomit of the infected person, and anyone who is exposed to contaminated foods or water can contract the virus. The virus can also spread by touching the face with the same hand used to touch an infected person or a contaminated place/thing.
Noroviruses tend to evolve genetically creating several mutations which makes them resistant to several disinfectants. This enables them to survive in both hot and cold temperatures, and affect any person several times, but the symptoms manifested would be less severe each time.
In this article, we will take you through the most common symptoms of norovirus, causes & risk factors associated with norovirus, and the treatment & preventive measures to manage the condition.
Norovirus at a glance
Symptoms of norovirus
Do not neglect the manifestation of the following symptoms of norovirus:
- Nausea (it is the most common and the first symptom)
- Stomach ache
- Loose or watery diarrhoea
- Feeling unwell and lack of energy
- Mild fever and chills
- Repeated episodes of body and headaches
Until the symptoms begin to reduce, the illness can become severe and give rise to sudden extreme discomfort with no warning signs. The symptoms may start to emerge between 12 to 48 hours after infection and usually last between 1 to 3 days. The infected person can also experience diarrhoea that can last more than 3 days. The virus can spread through faeces and vomit for two weeks after the symptoms clear up.
Causes of norovirus & risk factors
Some of the most common causes of norovirus include:
- Contaminated food and water
- Eating foods at unhygienic places
- Ready to eat foods, such as sandwiches, cookies, salads, fruit, or ice
- Being in close contact with a norovirus infected person
Here are some factors that can potentially increase the risk of getting affected by norovirus:
- A weak immune system
- Living in an unhygienic environment
- Staying in a place where many people congregate
- Living in a community place, such as nursing homes, hospitals, or old age homes
Norovirus treatment & preventive measures
There is no specific treatment available for norovirus gastroenteritis. To manage the condition, doctors aim to prevent dehydration and recommend medicines to control symptoms and speed up the recovery.
Some preventive measures that can help manage the condition include:
- Eat a light diet consisting of easily digestible foods, such as soups, toast, bananas, white rice, bread, and pasta
- Washing the hands frequently with soap to reduce the risk of infection
- Keeping the surroundings clean
- Avoid having food from unhygienic vendors and places
- Thoroughly washing the fruits and vegetables to make sure that the consumed food is clean
- Keeping the clothes and bedsheets clean
- Controlling the spread of the virus by staying at home or in a room (if you or someone is infected)
- Making sure that the items used by the infected person are kept away from the reach of other people, especially children
- Avoid raw foods (especially non-veg) and keep a water bottle handy when travelling to an unhygienic area
Remember, norovirus is a stomach ailment that has no specific cure but can be easily managed by undertaking the necessary preventive measures.
Although the condition is more prevalent during the winters, it can also affect you during any other season. To ensure that your gut health is not compromised due to this virus, taking measures to boost immunity is the first task you should accomplish. If you experience the above-mentioned symptoms, consult your doctor and take preventive measures to make sure that your health is back on track.
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