If you’ve ever had a “stomach bug,” chances are you had norovirus. The good news is that your body usually eradicates this virus after a few days. The bad news, however, is that the virus is extremely contagious and wreaks havoc on your body while it’s in your system. Read on for more details on transmission, treatment, and prevention.

What Is Norovirus?

It is a highly contagious virus, and anyone — adults or children — can contract it. Primarily, norovirus causes gastrointestinal problems. “Norovirus is the most common cause of epidemic viral gastroenteritis in the world.” says Shane Eikenberry, MD, Greater Pittsburgh Medical Associates-UPMC.

Outbreaks of the virus are common since it spreads so easily and quickly. However, the CDC reports that the illness occurs most frequently between November and April. A person with the sickness is contagious mainly when they have symptoms and a few days after they improve.

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How Do You Catch Norovirus?

The virus travels in microscopic particles of feces or vomit from an infected person. Just a few contaminated particles can make a person sick. The illness can be transmitted through direct contact, consuming contaminated food or water, or touching a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Symptoms of Norovirus

The illness primarily affects your stomach. Norovirus causes vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s a good idea to stay home from work, monitor your symptoms, and drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration can be a secondary health problem caused by the illness.

Norovirus Treatment Options

There is no specific norovirus treatment or medication, says the CDC. Antibiotics do not help because they only treat bacterial illnesses, not viral illnesses. However, if you have the virus, your doctor will likely recommend drinking fluids to stay hydrated and to replace the fluids lost through vomiting and diarrhea.

Severe dehydration is dangerous and can require hospitalization. If this happens, health care professionals will administer fluids intravenously to rehydrate your body as quickly as possible. Signs of dehydration in children include fussiness, unusual sleepiness, and crying with no tears. In adults, dehydration signs include very dark urine, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, sleepiness, and fainting.

Preventing the Problem

Avoiding the virus is your best bet for preventing the illness. Health experts recommend washing your hands often, rinsing fruits and veggies before eating them, and cooking shellfish completely. If you’re feeling sick, stay home from work and social activities until two days after your symptoms end. Additionally, avoid making food for family and friends until two days after symptoms end to protect them from the sickness.

If you are feeling sick and need top-notch primary care, contact the specialists at UPMC Primary Care. Our doctors offer wellness services and care for both common and complex medical conditions. Our expert doctors can also examine your condition and provide assistance or refer you to urgent care if necessary. To find a UPMC primary care doctor near you, call 1-855-676-8762.

About Primary Care

The relationship with a patient and their primary care doctor can be extremely valuable, and that’s what you get with UPMC Primary Care. When you work with a primary care physician (PCP), you develop a lasting relationship. Your doctor will get to know you and your history and can plan your treatments accordingly. Our PCPs offer a variety of services, including preventive care and treatment for both urgent and chronic conditions. With dozens of UPMC Primary Care locations across our network of care, you can find a PCP close to you. Schedule an appointment today.