Viral gastroenteritis is a common illness that affects millions of people worldwide. By far, the most common cause of gastroenteritis is from the norovirus infection. Read on to learn more about norovirus gastroenteritis treatment, symptoms, and prevention.
What is the Norovirus?
Viral gastroenteritis can be caused by a number of viruses. But the most common cause, especially among adults, is the norovirus.
Known previously as the Norwalk virus, the norovirus was discovered during an outbreak of gastroenteritis back in 1968. It is the number 1 cause of foodborne illness and is slowly starting to become more common among children.
People can get infected with the norovirus by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, or even being in contact with a person who has the norovirus.
Norovirus epidemics are common in places without clean drinking water or proper sanitation. This is because contaminated sewage can contaminate water supply or even the food supply, and cause an outbreak.
However, people who live in close quarters, such as in a cruise ship, hotels, or nursing homes are also at risk of the norovirus. Eating food from a place where food is handled improperly can also put people at risk for norovirus.
The norovirus is also particularly resistant to heat and cold, as well as some types of disinfectants.
For the most part, norovirus infections tend to be short and mild. However, patients who have weak immune systems, such as children, the elderly, or persons with HIV, are at risk of more severe symptoms.
What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of norovirus are similar to other types of viral gastroenteritis. A patient might experience the following symptoms:
Vomiting or nausea
Vomiting or nausea is the primary symptom of norovirus gastroenteritis. This happens because the stomach lining suffers from inflammation, so any intake of food or fluid causes further inflammation and leads to vomiting or nausea.
This symptom appears about 12 to 48 hours after a person has been exposed to norovirus.
Stomach pains are another common symptom of norovirus gastroenteritis. Just like vomiting or nausea, this symptom appears because the stomach lining has been inflamed. This symptom often accompanies vomiting and nausea in most patients.
It’s not uncommon for patients with norovirus gastroenteritis to have a low-grade fever. This is also one of the initial symptoms that patients might experience. Patients usually experience fever because the body is trying to fight off a viral infection.
Diarrhea is another possible symptom of norovirus gastroenteritis. Having a combination of vomiting and diarrhea can lead to complications, especially if the patient does not have enough fluids and electrolytes.
This is because it can quickly lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, shock, and even death.
Norovirus Gastroenteritis Treatment
Just like rotavirus, norovirus gastroenteritis does not have a specific form of treatment per se. The best thing to do would be to manage the symptoms until the body can fight off the virus.
Most people usually recover from viral gastroenteritis within a week or so. However, it is possible for norovirus gastroenteritis to last longer than that.
If that happens, it is important to keep the patient hydrated and to make sure they take in electrolytes. Dehydration is a serious concern with gastroenteritis.
How Can it Be Prevented?
Prevention of viral gastroenteritis is pretty straightforward. Here are some reminders when it comes to norovirus gastroenteritis:
- Wash your hands often. Be sure to use water and soap, and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Make sure the food you eat is fully cooked in order to avoid any viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
- Be sure that your drinking water is safe to drink. If you’re unsure, boil your water before drinking it or buy bottled water.
- If a person in your home has norovirus, be sure to clean and disinfect their surroundings. Do not share utensils. This helps prevent the spread of the virus.
Learn more about Gastroenteritis here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.