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Don’t Let Norovirus Ruin Your Winter: Expert Tips On Staying Healthy
Kelly Ochoa, MD
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We know that winter can be a time of joy, with warm fires, hot cocoa, and time spent with family. But it can also be a time of worry, with colds, flu, COVID and norovirus outbreaks. We’re here to help you understand what norovirus is, how to prevent it, and what to do if your child gets sick.
What is norovirus?
Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes gastroenteritis, or inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It’s the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States, and outbreaks often occur in schools, daycare centers, and cruise ships.
What are the symptoms of norovirus?
The symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, headache, and fever. They usually start 12 to 48 hours after exposure and can lead to one to three days of misery for the whole family.
How is norovirus spread?
Norovirus is spread by contaminated food or water, touching contaminated surfaces, and then touching your mouth, or by coming into close contact with someone who is infected (Good luck staying away from your toddler). It’s important to wash your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
How can I prevent norovirus?
The best way to prevent norovirus is to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces. If you or your child has norovirus, stay home until you have been symptom-free for 48 hours to prevent spreading the virus to others.
What should I do if my child gets norovirus?
If your child gets norovirus, the most important thing you can do is keep them hydrated. Dehydration is a common complication of gastroenteritis, and it’s especially important for children to drink plenty of fluids because they can become dehydrated more quickly than adults.
What fluids should I give my child?
Breast milk, formula, and oral rehydration solutions, such as Pedialyte, are the best fluids for children with norovirus. Avoid giving your child sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit juice, because they can make diarrhea worse. Yes, even watered-down 100% fruit juice is still watered-down sugar water. If they are older and no longer exclusively drinking milk, then avoid dairy. Like sugary drinks, dairy can worsen diarrhea and as a result, also worsen dehydration.
What are the signs of dehydration?
Dehydration can be serious, especially in children, so it’s important to know the signs
The signs of dehydration in children include:
- Dry mouth and throat
- Sunken eyes
- No tears when crying
- Dry skin
- Lack of urine or dark yellow urine
- Drowsiness or irritability
If your child is showing signs of dehydration, have them evaluated by a pediatric expert immediately.
Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that can cause vomiting and diarrhea. The best way to prevent norovirus is to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently. If your child gets norovirus, keep them hydrated with breast milk, formula, or an oral rehydration solution. Be aware of the signs of dehydration and have your child evaluated by a pediatric expert if showing signs of dehydration.
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We wish you a happy, healthy and hopefully not too loooong of a winter!