Norovirus Infection: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and More

Jul 11, 2022

Stomach Infections


Norovirus, a highly contagious stomach bug, causes inflammation of the small intestine and stomach (gastroenteritis) that can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. In the United States, norovirus contributes to 19-21 million illnesses annually and 50% of all foodborne disease outbreaks. Norovirus is a common infection and generally clears up within a few days without treatment. However, it can be severe and even fatal in young children, elders, pregnant women, and people with existing health conditions or weakened immune systems.

Therefore, knowing norovirus symptoms and causes will help you treat it on time, preventing life-threatening complications.

Causes of Norovirus 

Norovirus can spread in several ways, including:

  • Drinking contaminated water 
  • Being in close contact with an infected person or sharing food or utensils with them 
  • Eating contaminated food
  • Touching your mouth with unwashed hands after touching the contaminated surface or object 

Incubation Period for Norovirus 

You won’t develop any symptoms as soon as you contract the virus. It will take 12-48 hours (33 hours on average) between initial exposure and onset of symptoms. Nausea is usually the first sign of norovirus infection, and following that, you may experience abdominal cramping, vomiting, etc.

The Norovirus stomach bug can be detected in your stool after 48-72 hours of the onset of symptoms. In some cases, the virus may stay in stool for two weeks or longer. In such circumstances, you can spread it to others, even without developing symptoms. 

Norovirus Symptoms

Symptoms of Norovirus include:

  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills 
  • Muscle pain
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Low-grade fever 
  • Headache 

Risk Factors of Norovirus

Your risk of getting a norovirus infection may increase with:

  • Living in a closed environment, such as nursing homes. 
  • Staying in hotels, cruise ships, and resorts with many people around.
  • Visiting a child care center or preschool.
  • Having physical contact with an infected person.

Norovirus Diagnosis 

Your healthcare provider will usually diagnose your norovirus infection with your symptoms or may order a stool test if you have existing medical conditions or a weakened immune system. 

Norovirus Treatment 

Like other viral infections, there is no specific treatment or medication for norovirus infection. However, there are ways to help you manage symptoms and prevent dehydration, including:

  • Get Plenty of Rest:

    Avoid excessive physical activity and get plenty of sleep to help your body quickly recover from the infection.

  • Replenish Fluids:

    Drink plenty of fluids (containing electrolytes) to replace lost fluids. Avoid sugary drinks that may worsen your diarrhea and beverages that cause dehydration, like coffee and alcohol. Consider receiving IV fluids if you cannot drink enough oral fluids to prevent dehydration.

  • Eat a Healthy Diet:

    Eat healthy foods, such as egg, rice, pasta, plain noodles, cooked vegetables, chicken, fish, potatoes, fresh fruits, yogurt, and bread.

How to Prevent Norovirus Stomach Bug?

Follow these tips to reduce your chance of contracting norovirus:

  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Avoid contact with sick people
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating
  • Regularly disinfect surfaces
  • Don’t share objects and utensils with sick persons 

When to See a Doctor?

People with mild or moderate symptoms don’t require treatment, as they will go away in a few days. However, visit your doctor if:

  • Your diarrhea worsens or persists for more than three days 
  • You have a fever
  • You experience severe vomiting, bloody stools, dehydration, and stomach pain
  • You have a complicated existing health issue 

Norovirus is highly contagious and could be fatal in extreme cases for some people, especially children. It’s important to identify its warning signs and take adequate prevention measures to keep you and your family safe. 

8-2-8 Urgent Care Can Help Relieve Norovirus Symptoms

Whether you have persistent vomiting, diarrhea, or other symptoms of norovirus or food poisoning, visit us at the 8-2-8 Urgent Care walk-in clinic in Oceanside, CA, today. With our appropriate diagnosis and medical assistance, we will quickly treat your symptoms to improve your health while preventing further complications. 

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