What Are The First Symptoms Of Norovirus Infection & How Do You Test For It?

Norovirus is a greatly spreadable infection and can be easily transmitted to others through affected food and water. An affected person can also spread the infection easily to others through direct contact.(1,2)

What Are The First Symptoms Of Norovirus Infection?

What Are The First Symptoms Of Norovirus Infection?

The first symptoms of norovirus include:

  • Queasiness or nausea
  • Retching or vomiting
  • Pain or cramps in the abdomen
  • Loose or watery motions or diarrhea
  • Malaise
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever which is low grade

The signs and symptoms for norovirus usually start within 12 – 48 hours after the first contact with the virus. The symptoms may last for up to 3 days. However, your feces may still contain the virus for as long as two weeks after the complete recovery. Also, if you have any other health problem, you may pass the virus in feces for up to several months.

If there are signs and symptoms like non-subsiding diarrhea, serious vomiting, tarry or blackish stools or stools containing blood, severe pain or cramps in the abdomen or serious dehydration, you should immediately consult with your doctor.(1,2)

How Do You Test For Norovirus Infection?

In most cases, the signs and symptoms speak for the illness. In people with compromised immune systems or other underlying health conditions, a stool test may be required to establish the diagnosis of norovirus infection.(3)

Risk factors for norovirus infection:

  • Having food or eatables at such places which are unhygienic or unclean
  • Places like preschool or childcare centers
  • Living at places like nursing homes, closed housings, etc.
  • Public places with a limited place and a large number of people, like hotels, cruises, close-quarters etc.
  • If you come in close contact with a person who is already infected(1)

Norovirus infection usually gets better on its own within a few days in most people. Usually, it is not considered a life-threatening condition. However, in some instances like small children, older people, those having other health conditions or a compromised immune system, norovirus infection can cause some serious problems like dehydration, mal-nourishment and sometimes may even prove fatal.(1)

Some signs to keep a watch on may include:

  • Extreme tiredness or fatigue
  • Excessive dryness of throat or mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Lightheadedness or giddiness
  • Reduced urine production
  • If small kids having dehydration cry, they cry without or with very few tears(1)

Treatment For Norovirus Infection

There is no designated treatment for norovirus infection. Usually, it gets better on its own within a few days of its start. However, it is recommended to up the fluid intake to correct the dehydration caused by the loss of fluids due to vomiting and diarrhea. Fluid intake can be increased either orally or intravenously, as per the need of the person. Also, in some instances, the doctor may recommend taking the over the counter anti-diarrhea medicine.(2,3)

Prevention Of Norovirus Infection

  • Excellent hygiene is the key to prevent infections like norovirus. This is especially true if your work is about meeting many people and socializing.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water. Alcohol-based sanitizers cannot get rid of noroviruses. Wash the hands each time after you visit a washroom or attend to a baby’s toilet needs and before eating or organizing each and every meal.
  • Dispose off any infected material like stools and vomit effectively and carefully, without causing much disturbance to the infected material lest it spreads
  • Wash eatables like fruits, vegetables, and seafood thoroughly before consumption
  • Clean infested surfaces with a solution of chlorine bleach, especially if someone around you is sick.(2)

Conclusion

Norovirus infection is a greatly transmissible infection and can circulate easily among people. The first symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. A stool test may sometimes be required to confirm the diagnosis of the norovirus infection.

References:

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