The norovirus rears it's ugly, contagious head every winter, but this winter it seems to be wreaking havoc on a whole new level. England has seen more cases of norovirus than it has seen in five years. Some schools have temporarily closed to prevent further spread of the "winter vomiting disease." And despite the fact that the norovirus is rarely fatal, a mild panic has ensued. But fear not; winter will end soon, and so will the norovirus threat. Until then, here are some norovirus symptoms that could be something else.
The norovirus, which is actually the name for several gastrointestinal viruses, is hugely contagious. It can be passed by an infected person through things like contaminated food, water, or even touch. The virus thrives in highly populated closed environments like daycare centers, schools, and nursing homes. If you manage to contract norovirus... well, unfortunately you are in for an incredibly tough few days. The virus causes a severe gastrointestinal inflammation which brings on a whole host of nasty stomach issues like vomiting and diarrhea. There is no medicine to cure the illness, and no vaccine to prevent it (although Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. out of Japan has moved into human test trials, a light at the end of the tunnel).
The symptoms of norovirus generally surface between 12-24 hours after someone has been infected. The most common of these symptoms are:
- throwing up
- stomach pain
- body aches
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you could very well have been infected with norovirus. If so, your best bet is to stay home, avoid contact with too many people to lessen the chance of spreading the virus, drink plenty of fluids to keep from becoming dehydrated and rest. You will still be contagious for 48 hours after your symptoms clear up, so be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and avoid handling food if you can. But what if you have these symptoms and it's not norovirus?
If you're vomiting, have diarrhea, or abdominal pain, you could have:
- food poisoning
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- food allergies
- Diverticulitis (pay particular attention if you experience abdominal tenderness in the lower left side)
- lactose intolerance
- intestinal obstruction
- Giardiasis (parasitic infection)
- E. coli (bacterial infection)
Pay close attention to your symptoms and see your doctor if you're unsure whether or not you have contracted the norovirus. Because you don't want to self-diagnose and get it wrong, particularly if the condition requires treatment.