HEALTH MATTERS: How to cope with Norovirus

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MANY of you will have heard of Norovirus or the winter vomiting bug which is the most common stomach bug in the United Kingdom.

It is estimated that between 600,000 and 1 million people in the UK catch norovirus each year.

It is highly contagious and can affect people of all ages, causing vomiting and diarrhoea.

At this time of year the bug is at its prime which is why it is so important not to visit family and friends – as well as staying away from your workplace - until you have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

Of course, if you are very ill you should seek medical help.

It is very important that if you are suffering from vomiting or diarrhoea that you do NOT visit people in hospitals and care homes until you have fully recovered and have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.

If you did visit these sort of places, there is a real risk that you would introduce the infection into these communities putting vulnerable people at risk.

Noroviruses cause a very unpleasant but generally short-lived illness from which healthy people usually recover without treatment.

But it can cause more serious illness in the very young, elderly people and those who are living with chronic illnesses.

Hospitals are often under pressure around winter, and this can be made worse if bugs like norovirus enter wards. These bugs can pass quickly between visitors, patients and staff, which can result in staff being off ill, beds becoming unavailable and appointments being postponed.

There are some really basic steps you can take to help us to keep services running as normal, such as not visiting hospital if you’ve been sick or had diarrhoea in the last 48 hours.

It is also advised that children aged 12 years or younger not to visit hospital, as they often pick these bugs up at school. If you’re visiting someone in hospital, remember that no more than two visitors are allowed in at any one time and to use the seats provided at bedside.

If you have norovirus, follow the steps below to help ease your symptoms:

•Make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

•Also ensure that you take paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains.

•If you feel like eating, make sure you eat foods that are easy to digest.

•Stay at home – do not go to see your GP because norovirus is contagious and there’s nothing your GP can do while you have it.

•Contact your GP to seek advice if your symptoms last longer than a few days or if you already have a serious illness.