Norovirus, often dubbed the ‘winter vomiting bug’, is a highly contagious virus that can mean a couple of days of tummy pain as well as D&V that can wipe the whole family out. It’s like a very unwelcome guest at a party, causing a huge commotion in your digestive system. Most people start to perk up quite soon after it has run its course, and thankfully there are some great home remedies to help get your gut feeling more comfy and you all back on track.
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What is norovirus?
Norovirus is a viral-induced gastroenteritis and will probably mean that you and your household experience a sudden onset of nausea, projectile vomiting and diarrhoea. Norovirus can also include a high temperature, abdominal pain and aching limbs as well as exhaustion. It can get very messy when children are involved!
The pesky virus is an RNA virus of the family Caliciviridae which spreads through contaminated food or water, close contact with someone who’s infected, or even just by touching an infected surface. Picture tiny, invisible viral particles waiting to jump on to the next host causing gastroenteritis and consequent inflammation in the stomach and intestines. Symptoms typically appear 12 to 48 hours after exposure and last for 1 to 3 days of horrible discomfort.
How to prevent norovirus
First things first, washing your hands with soap and water is your best defence. It’s crucial to wash your hands after using the loo or changing nappies, and before you start eating or cooking.
Also, give your fruits and veggies a good scrub before you chop them up and eat them. Ensure shellfish is cooked properly before you tuck in.
One study carried out in 2022 found that both date syrup and propolis (which is an active compound produced by honey bees, which you can buy as a supplement) may act as inhibitors of norovirus, so it might be worth having one or the other if you have been exposed.
How to manage a norovirus outbreak in your house
If someone in your household has been sick with vomiting or diarrhoea, grab some disposable gloves and start with paper towels to tackle the mess. Then wipe everything clean with bleach or a good quality disinfectant. Wash sheets and towels at at least 60℃ to ensure you kill the virus. And don’t forget after you sort out the laundry and put out the rubbish, to give your hands a thorough wash.
You can still harbour the virus for up to two days after your symptoms have subsided. So if you are ill or have been ill, avoid cooking and helping prepare meals for others until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped. This is because norovirus can be spread through contaminated food when the food is handled by both symptomatic people as well as infected people who don’t have symptoms.
The government recommends that you stay at home if you have norovirus symptoms and do not return to work or send children to school or nursery until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared.
Four natural home remedies to help perk you up
Norovirus can leave you totally exhausted and washed out so here are my top remedies to feel stronger and help soothe your post-viral sensitive tummy. And then you can enjoy your favourite meals, your energy levels returns, and your digestive system will be nice and calm again.
1. Hydration is key: When battling norovirus, staying hydrated is crucial. Think about drinking clear bone broths, herbal teas, and plenty of filtered water – sip to begin with until you keep it down. Keep drinking more than usual even after your symptoms have stopped. This will help to replace any fluids lost through vomiting and diarrhoea. Stay away from fruit juices and fizzy drinks, as these can irritate a delicate tummy.
2. Tummy soothing foods: Your stomach’s had a rough time, so treat it kindly. Opt for bland, easy-to-digest foods such as rice, toast, crackers, millet porridge, eggs, white fish, bananas and apple purée. These foods are gentle on your tummy and provide the energy you need to get back on track.
3. Trace minerals to the rescue: Norovirus can deplete your body’s minerals. Consider foods rich in potassium, like bananas, avocado, chicken and potatoes. Pink Himalayan salt is rich in trace minerals, as is seaweed-based condiments or sprinkles so include these in your foods; or take a trace mineral supplement to help restore balance.
4. Probiotics for gut harmony: Introduce good bacteria back into your system. Foods like yoghurt and kefir make a good start. Many people find benefit from a probiotic called Saccharomyces boulardii which is well-researched to help correct a loose bowel, and also helps to bolster the gut immune system. On top of this you can try a more general probiotic supplement to help restore your gut flora to its natural state.
Norovirus might be a common and highly contagious bug, but with these natural remedies, you’re well-equipped to fight back. Remember, it’s a temporary setback. Soon, you’ll be back on your feet, enjoying life with a settled tummy and a smile.