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Can You Die From Norovirus Infection & Are There Any Complications?

Norovirus infection is a viral infection of the stomach. It is also known as the winter sickness bug or stomach flu. It is a highly contagious disease that occurs commonly. It occurs due to exposure to norovirus in closed and crowded places like hotels, restaurants, schools, colleges through contaminated food, fluids, and surfaces. It spreads from one person to another when a person comes in close contact with an infected person. Its symptoms include sudden onset of diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. It resolves on its own, mostly without medications.

Can You Die From Norovirus Infection?

Can You Die From Norovirus Infection?

Norovirus is a contagious infection that induces gastroenteritis. It is a common infection of the stomach, also known as the winter sickness bug. In most cases, people recover in one to three days without any long-lasting impact on the body. According to the CDC, norovirus infection is the cause of hospitalization of more than 70,000 people in the US. It is also reported that nearly 800 people die every year due to this infection.(1)

Norovirus affects all people of any age group. It is transmitted when a person comes in contact with contaminated food, liquid, surfaces, or directly with the infected person. It can be ingested through nose, mouth, and rubbing eyes after contact with contaminated surfaces. It is also transmitted through the fecal-oral route.(3)

Norovirus infection settles down on its own without medical treatment within a few days. It is not a life-threatening condition. It usually affects people who have compromised immune systems such as infants, young children, and older people. It occurs when a person is exposed to norovirus in a closed and crowded environment such as hospitals, nursing homes, daycare, etc. It rarely causes complications. In severe cases, it causes dehydration, malnutrition, and even death.(2)

Are There Any Complications?

The complications of norovirus infection are-

  • Dehydration
  • Severe and frequent Diarrhea
  • Loss of vital nutrients
  • Death(2)

Chronic diarrhea is induced in some patients with norovirus infection that may trigger warning signs of dehydration. It happens due to the loss of excess fluids from the body through vomiting and diarrhea. It renders severe problems in infants and young children.(1)

The warning signs of dehydration are-

  • Lethargy
  • Dryness in the mouth and throat
  • Listlessness
  • Dizziness
  • The decrease in urine output(2)

Infants and young children cry with few tears or no tears, become sleepy or fussy.(2) They depict unusual fuzziness and less urine output that can be understood by a lack of wet diapers.(1)

Dehydration also causes other problems too. When the level of fluids decreases in the body, it is also accompanied by the loss of electrolytes leading to electrolytic imbalances. It includes loss of salt and potassium from the body, which is extremely important for the normal functioning of the heart. If dehydration is not managed in time, then excessive Electrolytic disturbances may result in heart ailments like irregular heart problems.(1)

Norovirus infection does not need treatment in most cases for killing norovirus, but treatment is required to control dehydration and prevent complications. To manage dehydration, patients are asked to consume a small number of fluids in short intervals. Frequent intake of Sports drinks and water may help in this. In certain cases, IV fluids become necessary to tackle dehydration and Electrolytic loss. Medicines are prescribed to reduce the frequency and intensity of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.(1)


Norovirus infection is a contagious disease, but it is not a life-threatening condition in most cases. In some cases, especially in children, infants, and elders, it may cause complications such as chronic diarrhea and dehydration. If dehydration prevails for a long time, it will lead to the excessive loss of fluids and electrolytes, causing improper functioning of the heart, resulting in death.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 27, 2019

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