Norovirus, which is contagious, is an infection that brings about sudden diarrhea and vomiting. Often spread through contaminated food or water, norovirus can also be passed from person to person when in a confined area with an infected person. After being exposed to the virus, gastrointestinal symptoms will come on within twelve to forty-eight hours. It usually takes about three days for symptoms to go away. It may be a few more days after that before a person is feeling completely better. For the most part, norovirus isn't a very dangerous illness, though it can cause complications in the very young and the very old. Individuals who have a compromised immune system may suffer complications such as dehydration. Let's take a look at common symptoms associated with norovirus now.
While norovirus causes some gastrointestinal symptoms, there are also other bodily symptoms that can make a person feel unwell and uncomfortable. Muscle pain is very common at the beginning of the illness when a person feels their worst. This is similar to the body aches many people feel when they are sick with a fever or the flu. This muscle pain can be treated using an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Dehydration can complicate this symptom, so it is important to push fluids during a bout of norovirus and make certain electrolytes are supplemented.
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Nausea And Vomiting
The first symptoms of norovirus are nausea and vomiting, which usually come on within a day or two of coming into contact with an infected person. Some individuals experience diarrhea as well. It is important to hydrate your body during this time. It might not be tempting to drink in the midst of stomach upset, but it is important to ensure the body does not dehydrate during the illness, as dehydration can lengthen an illness and cause many complications moving forward as well. Supplementing with fluids as well as electrolytes can help alleviate symptoms and help the body fight off infection.
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With the gastrointestinal upset that comes along with norovirus, cramps will present themselves. This pain is usually experienced in the stomach as well as the intestines. There may be a number of reasons for this discomfort. Cramping can come on because of gas in the intestines and stomach. The body is essentially trying to rid itself of this virus, which can cause a lot of discomfort. Vomiting and nausea can also cause uncomfortable cramping. This symptom is very common and should be expected with norovirus. It may help to lay comfortably in bed at this point and try applying mild heat to the area as well.
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Some patients with norovirus mainly experience vomiting during the length of their illness, and some commonly experience very loose stools. There are also those who will experience both of these symptoms. Diarrhea can be very unpleasant as well as dangerous. The body can dehydrate quickly from this. If loose stools persist for more than twenty-four hours, it is important to contact a medical professional. There are over-the-counter medications that can assist, but some of these can actually lengthen the illness overall. The body is trying to cleanse itself, and it cannot do this if symptoms cease completely. A doctor can prescribe medication to help with symptoms if they become too severe.
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Norovirus very commonly brings on a fever at the first onset of symptoms, and it can persist for about forty-eight hours. If the reading approaches the point of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, it is time to contact a doctor, as this is the point where seizures could occur, along with other complications. An over-the-counter temperature reducer can effectively lower the body's temperature associated with norovirus, and it will also help with symptoms like body aches. High body temperature can be dangerous as it can cause the body to dehydrate faster. It is important to push fluids during this illness when a higher-than-normal temperature is present.
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Dry mouth may occur if the virus causes patients to become dehydrated. When the dry mouth is related to norovirus, it will typically occur after an individual has already experienced vomiting and diarrhea. Affected individuals might not feel like they're producing as much saliva as usual, or like the inside of their mouth feels like sandpaper. Their tongue might feel like it's sticking to their teeth or the roof of their mouth. Trying to generate saliva might be difficult. The best way to alleviate dry mouth is to stay hydrated by continuing to sip water or electrolyte-heavy fluids throughout the day. One of the potential dangers of dry mouth is that the lack of saliva makes it harder to break down food, so individuals are more likely to experience tooth damage and gum issues. Patients should make sure they're taking extra care with their oral hygiene by brushing their teeth at least twice a day.
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As with a dry mouth and dry throat, dizziness will typically occur after an individual with norovirus has already experienced enough vomiting and diarrhea for their body to become dehydrated. It might surprise many to learn dehydration can cause dizziness and balance issues in addition to making them feel thirsty. The reasoning behind this is a drop in blood pressure. When individuals don't have enough liquid in their body, their blood pressure tends to drop when they stand up or walk around. This causes the brain not to receive enough oxygen to function. If the lack of oxygen is severe enough, patients might faint or need to sit down to avoid fainting. Dizziness is even more likely in individuals who have norovirus while taking medication that lowers blood pressure. Even if individuals don't feel well enough to drink a lot, it's best to take small sips of water to avoid this.
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As with other symptoms of norovirus, decreased urination may occur after diarrhea and vomiting have caused the patient's body to lose a lot of fluid. Because their body is trying to retain the little water it does have, they might not urinate as much as usual even if they're still drinking the same amount they usually do. It's important to replenish lost fluids by drinking extra water or drinks with electrolytes in them. Once individuals have restored their body's natural balance to normal, their urinary system should begin functioning normally again. Drinking diluted fruit juice can sometimes help keep patients hydrated, though it might not be easy on their stomach when they're dealing with norovirus. For patients who feel too sick to keep down water without vomiting, it might help to suck or chew on ice chips instead.
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Dehydration from nausea and vomiting can lead to a dry throat, which often accompanies a dry mouth. Patients might have trouble swallowing or feel like things are 'sticking' in their throat. Their throat might feel scratchy, itchy, or rough. They might also feel extremely thirsty, which can be frustrating if they're having trouble keeping liquid down because of norovirus. Dry throat is most commonly caused by mucous membranes drying out. In the case of norovirus, that happens because patients have lost too much fluid for their body to keep the membranes lubricated. It can also be exacerbated by exercise, breathing through the mouth, sleeping with the mouth open, and being in a particularly dry climate. Individuals who smoke marijuana and tobacco also have a higher chance of developing a dry throat due to norovirus. Vomiting can contribute to the presence of dry throat, as this also dries out the mucous membranes. Elderly individuals and the very young may be more susceptible to dehydration and dry throat as a result of vomiting.
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Fatigue And Lethargy
Norovirus can lead to feelings of fatigue and lethargy. Some of this may be due to dehydration, while some of it may also be due to the toll the virus takes on the patient's body. The illness tends to cause a great deal of vomiting and diarrhea, which can cause muscles to become achy and fatigued. It's also hard for patients to rest their muscles until the virus has run its course. Individuals with norovirus might feel extremely lethargic and have trouble getting out of bed or summoning the motivation to do things. Most of their body's energy is being redirected into fighting off the virus. Dehydration can also make patients tired because of the way the lack of fluids affects their brain and other organ systems. Their muscles are more likely to hurt if they're dehydrated, since they aren't getting the fluid they need to function properly. It's important to rest when dealing with norovirus, and it's also important to stay as hydrated as possible. Even a little water may help improve lethargic symptoms.