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Norovirus: Symptoms and Treatment

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What Are the Symptoms of a Norovirus Infection? continued...

Other norovirus symptoms include:

  • Low-grade fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue

Most of these symptoms aren't serious, but diarrhea and vomiting can deplete your body of the fluid it needs and you can become dehydrated. Children and the elderly are most susceptible to dehydration, as well as malnutrition from not getting enough nutrients.

If you have symptoms of norovirus, your doctor can give you a stool test to confirm that you have the illness. However, norovirus diagnosis is usually made based solely on symptoms.

A small percentage of people who are infected with norovirus never have any symptoms, which suggests they might have some natural protection from the virus.

Norovirus Treatment

Noroviruses, like other viruses, don't respond to antibiotics, which are designed to kill bacteria. No antiviral drug can treat noroviruses, but in healthy people the illness should go away on its own within a couple of days. Most people don't have any long-term problems from the virus.

To prevent dehydration, make sure to drink plenty of liquids, especially water and juices. Give children an oral rehydration solution (such as Pedialyte) to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. Avoid sugary drinks, which can make diarrhea worse, as well as alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which can dehydrate you further.

Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness when standing, dry mouth, and a decrease in urination. If severe dehydration develops, contact your doctor. Severe dehydration is sometimes treated with intravenous (IV) fluids.

How to Prevent Norovirus Infection

Good hygiene is the key to preventing an infection with norovirus, especially when you are in close surroundings with a lot of other people.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after going to the bathroom or changing a baby's diaper, and before you prepare or eat food.
  • Carefully dispose of any contaminated items (such as dirty diapers).
  • Wash raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Cook oysters and other shellfish before eating them.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces with a mixture of detergent and chlorine bleach after someone is sick.
  • If you have norovirus, don't prepare food for at least two to three days after you feel better. Try not to eat food that has been prepared by someone else who is sick.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on August 02, 2012
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