Norovirus: the Winter Vomiting Bug.
Norovirus, sometimes known as the winter vomiting
bug, is the most common stomach bug in the UK.You can
catch it at any time during the year, although it is more common in
the winter months.
The virus is highly contagious. It can affect people of all
ages and causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
Other symptoms include:
- Mild fever
- Stomach cramps
- Aching limbs
Although having norovirus can be unpleasant, it's not
usually dangerous and most people make a full recovery within a
couple of days without having to see their GP. There’s no cure
for it – you just have to let it run its course and avoid contact
with other people until you feel better.
How to avoid catching norovirus
Norovirus is easily spread and there is no 100%
effective way to avoid it, but there are some things you can do to
reduce your chances of catching it:
Keep your hands clean.
Wash them frequently with soap and water,
particularly after going to the toilet, and before eating or
Avoid raw, unwashed food.
Rinse fruit and vegetables well before eating
Don’t share towels, flannels or
If someone in your home has norovirus, you could
catch it from something they’ve used.
Keep household surfaces clean.
Anywhere you prepare food, surfaces that an infected person has
touched, and your bathroom should be kept as clean as possible
using bleach-based cleaners.
If you have norovirus, you may continue to be
infectious for a short period after your symptoms stop. You should
therefore avoid preparing food and direct contact with others for
at least 48 hours after your symptoms disappear.
What to do if you catch
If you have norovirus, follow the steps
below to help ease your symptoms:
Keep it to yourself.
Staying at home and keeping your hands clean
can help avoid spreading norovirus to others. You can still be
infectious up to 48 hours after your symptoms go, so it’s best to
avoid seeing other people during that time. It’s especially
important to avoid visiting anyone in a hospital or care home, as
norovirus is more serious for people who are already ill.
Don’t go to see your GP
Norovirus is contagious and there is nothing
your GP can do while you have it. Take Paracetamol for any aches or
pains and contact your GP to seek advice if your symptoms
last longer than a few days or if you already have a serious
Drink plenty of liquid.
Water is best. This will replace the water
your body loses from vomiting and diarrhoea and will avoid
Eat food that’s easy to
That means things like soup, rice, pasta and
bread. Babies should continue with their normal feeds.
If you are looking after someone with
The main things to remember are:
- Make sure they don’t become dehydrated. Give
them plenty to drink. Extra care should be taken to prevent
babies and small
children who have diarrhoea and vomiting from dehydrating
by giving them plenty of fluids.
- If they’re elderly or vulnerable, give
them rehydration solutions (you can get these from your
- If they have symptoms for more than three
days, or you’re worried about dehydration, get advice from NHS 24
- Hospitals and care homes may temporarily
suspend visiting if norovirus is about. This is to stop the virus
spreading – especially to ill or elderly
people, as norovirus can be more serious for them.
- If you are due to attend hospital yourself for any reason,
please remember to tell your doctor or nurse if someone in your
family has norovirus.
For more information…