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eMed previously Babylon Health


Reviewed by Dr Claudia Pastides, 25th April 2019

Norovirus is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK, also known as the winter vomiting bug. Anybody can catch it at any time of year, and it causes diarrhoea and vomiting. It is spread from person to person very easily, so you are more at risk of norovirus if you work in a school, hospital, or public place.

While norovirus can be nasty, it usually clears up by itself within a few days. If you have particularly severe symptoms or they haven’t improved in three days, speak to an online doctor who may be able to prescribe medication to help.

Symptoms of norovirus

Norovirus symptoms set in very quickly and are easily identified. If you have a sudden onset of nausea, diarrhoea and heavy projectile vomiting then it’s likely you have the norovirus. In some cases, you may also experience headaches, stomach cramps and a slight fever.

Causes of norovirus

Norovirus is a type of viral infection which causes inflammation of the digestive system. It is a highly contagious virus which spreads easily, and there is no cure for it. The virus is always changing, so the body is unable to build up a resistance to it meaning you can catch norovirus more than once. Norovirus is often confused with food poisoning because it can be spread through food, however it can also be transmitted in other ways.

You may catch norovirus in a place where mass food is produced, such as on a cruise ship or at a restaurant. It can also be passed around schools and workplaces quickly, through touching contaminated surfaces. If you have norovirus, don’t share towels with family members and stay off school or work until 48 hours after the symptoms have passed.

Treatment for norovirus

The best thing to do if you experience norovirus symptoms is to stay at home and let it run its course. There is no cure and no way to treat it, as the virus won’t respond to antibiotics. You shouldn’t have to see a doctor unless you have signs of dehydration, or the symptoms haven’t cleared up in a few days on their own. However, if you do feel like you need to speak to a GP then you shouldn’t go to a surgery because norovirus is so contagious and you’ll be putting others at risk. Get medical advice from a doctor at home through the app.

Top tips for easing symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to replace water lost from vomiting and diarrhoea
  • If you have signs of dehydration use oral rehydration solutions
  • Eat dry, plain foods if you feel like eating and avoid fizzy drinks
  • Take paracetamol if you experience aches or pains
  • Ask a GP or pharmacist if you should take anti-vomiting or antidiarrheal tablets

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.