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Norovirus or Stomach Flu? Everything You Need to Know About Norovirus

Norovirus or Stomach Flu? Everything You Need to Know About Norovirus

Norovirus or stomach flu? What’s the difference?

While norovirus may sometimes be referred to as stomach flu, they are not the same thing. Norovirus is a group of viruses that commonly cause health problems. These include gastroenteritis, also called stomach flu, and food poisoning.

The following are facts about norovirus to help distinguish norovirus and stomach flu from one another:

Fact #1: Norovirus or stomach flu? Norovirus is not stomach flu, but causes it

  • Norovirus may be contracted by consuming contaminated food or drinks, being in close contact with an infected person, or failing to observe proper hygiene when being in contact with contaminated surfaces or areas. Examples include touching your face or mouth with your hands after being in contact with dirty and contaminated areas.
  • A case of stomach flu may originate from either the norovirus or the rotavirus.
  • The symptoms of stomach flu consist of watery diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, nausea, vomiting, a low fever, headaches, and sometimes, muscle aches. The same symptoms may be observed in norovirus patients, hence the confusion.

Fact #2: Norovirus is very contagious

  • Norovirus may be spread through contact with contaminated food or drinks.
  • It may also spread through direct contact of contaminated surfaces.
  • Infection may come from being in direct contact with a contaminated patient.
  • Norovirus may also be spread through eating in places where food was not handled properly and cleanly.
  • Risks of contracting the norovirus also increase when you frequent establishments with many people coming in and out, such as hotels and resorts.

Fact #3: Norovirus is more commonly caught during the winter

  • Though you may contract the virus all year round, it seems to spread to people more easily during the winter months due to human behavior during these months.
  • In countries with a winter season, people tend to stay indoors more often during the winter. This may result in infected persons contaminating dwelling areas and increasing the risk of others contracting norovirus.

Stomach Flu vs Food Poisoning: What’s the Difference?

Fact #4: Norovirus has no concrete form of treatment

  • When a patient has been affected by norovirus, they are advised to rest, hydrate, and let the virus run its course. Norovirus, like other viruses, does not respond to antibiotics. For healthy patients, it is normal for the virus to cause symptoms for 1 to 3 days.

Fact #5: Norovirus symptoms do not appear immediately

  • It may be difficult to determine when you have contracted norovirus, but it is recommended that once you begin to experience its symptoms, especially dehydration, it means that the symptoms have started to take effect.
  • The symptoms usually appear anywhere within 48 hours after contracting the virus.

Fact #6: You can lower the risk of Norovirus

Norovirus treatment includes hydrating yourself and eating plain food. But there are tips to lower the risk of getting infected with and spreading norovirus. These include:

  • Avoiding school or work after you have experienced symptoms, to help prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Basic maintenance of hygienic practices. This includes disinfecting surfaces that you may come in contact with, especially in public and dirty areas. Among these are restaurant tables, and toilet seats.
  • If you suspect that your clothing has been contaminated, wash your clothes with a minimum temperature of 60 degrees Celsius to help eliminate the virus.
  • Avoiding sharing personal items like towels, toothbrushes, and the like, to lower the risk of spreading norovirus.

Key Takeaway

Norovirus and stomach flu are different things, although norovirus may cause stomach flu.

While it may be frustrating to learn that there is no current cure for norovirus, it is comforting to know that you can take steps to keep you and your loved ones safe by simply practicing hygiene and cleanliness.

Learn more about Infectious Diseases here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Amable Aguiluz Updated Apr 26, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel