COVID-19 Information Center: get the latest on vaccines, testing, screening, visitor policy and post-COVID support >>
Everyone, at some point in life, has probably experienced the unpleasant symptoms of viral gastroenteritis.
It’s common and very contagious. Often referred to as “stomach flu,” it’s not actually influenza. It’s caused by a virus that inflames your gastrointestinal tract.
Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis. Its infection can lead to an extremely unpleasant 24-36 hours.
What are the symptoms of norovirus?
Symptoms typically begin 1 or 2 days after the virus enters your body, usually after someone accidentally gets the tiny particles from an infected person’s feces or vomit in their mouth.
This can happen when someone eats or drinks something contaminated with the particles, touches something with the particles on it, then touches their mouth or has direct contact with someone who’s infected through taking care of them or sharing their eating utensils.
The symptoms can include:
Gastroenteritis must run its course and clear on its own, as there is no medication to treat it. Luckily, most people feel better within a day or two.
To avoid dehydration, people infected should try to drink as much decaffeinated liquid as possible. Start with a small amount and increase if there is no vomiting. When you feel like eating again, start with small amounts of bland food such as crackers, dry toast, bananas, oatmeal or rice.
Stopping the spread of norovirus
Norovirus spreads easily. When an infected person vomits or has diarrhea, billions of microscopic viral particles are shed and can splatter on surfaces where they can stay and infect people for days or weeks. The virus is very contagious and only takes 100 or fewer viral particles to infect someone.
Preventing the spread of norovirus is possible but takes extreme vigilance:
Self-care at home is the primary treatment for a norovirus infection. Call a doctor if someone infected with norovirus seems severely dehydrated, if symptoms last longer than 3 days or if they experience severe vomiting or bloody stools.
We have hundreds of board-certified physicians to choose from. Book your next doctor’s appointment online.
Need care now? Our walk-in care locations are a convenient option for minor illnesses and injuries. Check locations and wait times.
Healthcare is even easier when you use the MyEEHealthTM mobile app. Download the app and keep track of your health from the comfort of anywhere, 24/7.
If you have reached this screen, your current device or browser is unable to access the full Edward-Elmhurst Health Web site.
To see the full site, please upgrade your browser to the most recent version of Safari, Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer. If you cannot upgrade your browser, you can remain on this site.