Strike out the stomach bug!

3 easy ways to avoid norovirus this winter

3 easy ways to avoid norovirus this winter

Stomach flu, stomach virus, gastroenteritis. They’re all terms for norovirus — that dreaded bug that makes its rounds every fall and winter, leaving vomiting and diarrhea in its wake. But are there ways to avoid it? Yes, if you understand how it spreads.

You can get norovirus from touching something that a person with the virus touched. That includes anything from a doorknob to a computer keyboard, sink faucet, cellphone or coffee pot.

Tip 1: Wash your hands with soap and water often and well, especially if you are in close quarters with many people. Keep sinks, doorknobs and communal appliances clean with sanitizing wipes.

Since it spreads so easily, you can catch it from a co-worker, friend, family member or even a stranger.

“It spreads especially fast in close quarters, such as in nursing homes, schools and cruise ships — a reason why people sometimes confuse it with food poisoning,” said Christina M. Breit, M.D., internal medicine. “However, food poisoning is caused by a toxin found in the food, not a virus that’s spread through food.”

Tip 2: Avoid people who have symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. Don’t share eating utensils, food or drink. That may mean keeping sick family members isolated from the healthy ones. Limit sick people to their bedrooms, and don’t let others use the sick person’s bathroom, if possible. If that’s not possible: Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect.

Unfortunately, there are no effective medicines that kill norovirus. However, norovirus is generally harmless and symptoms go away in about two to three days without treatment.

“The biggest danger is dehydration,” Dr. Breit said, “so resting and keeping well hydrated by drinking lots of water, Pedialyte or other fluids are the keys to recovery.”

Tip 3: Eat healthy, regular meals; get enough rest; and exercise daily. This will keep you healthy and build up your immune system so your body is ready to fight norovirus or any other illness that comes along.

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