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Norovirus: all you need to know on the “winter vomiting bug”

Here is everything you need to know on how to treat, spot the signs, and limit the spread of Norovirus - one of one of winter’s least welcome visitors.
Norovirus - you can usually treat dirrhoea and vomiting at home

The NHS is calling on the public to heed advice and stay at home if they have norovirus to avoid passing it on. Hospitals in England have been forced to close more than 1,100 hospital beds over the last week, due to the virus.

Norovirus can be an unpleasant illness to catch. For the vast majority of people it will usually pass in a couple of days, and self-treating at home is the best way to help yourself and avoid putting others at risk

If you are suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea please seek help from the free, 24/7 NHS 111 phone and online service rather than going to hospital or their GP, where you may risk infecting others.

Five ways to limit the spread of norovirus:

  1. Stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms. Do not return to work or send children to school until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared. Also avoid visiting elderly or poorly relatives, particularly if they are in hospital.
  2. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water. Alcohol hand gels don’t kill norovirus.
  3. Use a bleach-based household cleaner or a combination of bleach and hot water to disinfect household surfaces and commonly used objects such as toilets, taps, telephones, door handles and kitchen surfaces.
  4. If you are ill, avoid cooking and helping prepare meals for others.
  5. Wash any contaminated clothing or bedding using detergent and at 60°C, and if possible wear disposable gloves to handle contaminated items.
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water. Alcohol hand gels don’t kill norovirus
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water. Alcohol hand gels don’t kill norovirus

How to spot the signs of norovirus:

The main symptoms of norovirus are typically:

  • 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 people become infected and typically last for up to two or three days.

How to look after yourself if you have diarrhoea & vomiting:

Most people will make a full recovery within 1-2 days, but it is important to drink plenty of fluids during that time to prevent dehydration especially in the very young, elderly or those with weakened immunity.

Do:

  • stay at home and get plenty of rest
  • drink lots of fluids, such as water or squash – take small sips if you feel sick
  • carry on breast or bottle feeding your baby – if they’re being sick, try giving small feeds more often than usual
  • give babies on formula or solid foods small sips of water between feeds
  • eat when you feel able to – you don’t need to eat or avoid any specific foods
  • take paracetamol if you’re in discomfort – check the leaflet before giving it to your child

Don’t:

  • go back to work, or send your children back to school, until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared
  • have fruit juice or fizzy drinks – they can make diarrhoea worse
  • make baby formula weaker – use it at its usual strength
  • give children under 12 medicine to stop diarrhoea
  • give aspirin to children under 16

Stay well this winter

It’s important you look after yourself and others in cold weather. Winter brings a number of issues we all need to prepare for. So here is our guide on everything you need to know to stay safe and well in cold weather.

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