Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ah-choooo, Cough, Flush ... Keeping Yourself Healthy This Flu Season

It's going around the doctor's office, the grocery store, your office and your home. It takes over your life and it is seemingly the worst pain you've ever experienced ... Congratulations, you have norovirus.

Sometimes confused with the "stomach flu," norovirus is not at all related to the flu virus, which is actually a respiratory virus. Norovirus resembles food poisoning with its symptoms: diarrhea, throwing up, nausea, stomach cramping, low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and a general sense of fatigue.

No vaccine can prevent you from getting it and no drug can be prescribed to make you feel better. So what is the silver lining? Most people feel better within one or two days. But returning to normal can take a little while longer.

According to the CDC's website, "Anyone can be infected with noroviruses and get sick. Also, you can get norovirus illness more than once during your life. The illness often begins suddenly. You may feel very sick, with stomach cramping, throwing up, or diarrhea. Noroviruses are the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the United States. CDC estimates that each year more than 20 million cases of acute gastroenteritis are caused by noroviruses. That means about 1 in every 15 Americans will get norovirus illness each year. Norovirus is also estimated to cause over 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths each year in the United States."

The norovirus is very contagious and taking the precautions to prevent the virus from spreading is very important.

-Avoid eating foods or drinking liquids that have been in contact with someone who has the virus.
-Avoid touching surfaces or objects that have been in contact with the virus.
-The virus can live on hard surfaces for days, be sure to wash your hands often and keep your hands out of your mouth.

People with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least three days after they recover. But, some people may be contagious for even longer.

Washing your hands is the best way to prevent the spread of the norovirus. Use as hot of water as you can stand and soap and wash for at least 20 seconds. 






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