The calendar is telling us that spring is
here—a time when we look forward to a decrease in the common viruses that get
passed around throughout the winter.
Despite the (slowly) rising temperatures, however, we have seen an increase in cases of norovirus, also known as the stomach bug, in the past couple of weeks at Doctors Express of Timonium.
Norovirus has gotten a lot of attention recently because it is the highly contagious ailment that has famously afflicted large percentages of the population on certain cruise ships.
It’s also typically what folks are referring to when they say they have a “stomach bug” or “stomach flu.” Calling the illness “stomach flu” is a misnomer, though. Viruses like norovirus that cause gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines) are not related to the influenza for which we get the flu shot.
The flu shot does NOT protect against norovirus. Nor do these viruses respond to antibiotics. The fast moving germs are spread person to person, through surfaces and through food contaminated by a handler with the virus. The best prevention is to wash hands frequently, disinfect surfaces and launder soiled garments promptly.
The good news is that the stomach bug, with its uncomfortable symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea, is usually fast-moving, so the suffering shouldn’t last more than a day or two.
If you do get the stomach bug, listen to your body. Don’t try to eat solids until the vomiting and diarrhea have subsided, but do take in as many fluids as you can and get lots of rest. The greatest danger with these illnesses is dehydration. It’s best to replace fluids and electrolytes with oral rehydration products, but whatever fluids you can keep down are better than nothing.
Signs of dehydration include:
· Infrequent or thick, dark urination
· Dry tongue or mouth
· Lack of tears
If you suspect dehydration in yourself or someone in your care, visit a medical professional. An IV to replace fluids may be necessary. Also see a medical professional if there is:
· Blood in the stool
· Vomiting for more than two days
· Fever higher than 101 degrees
These symptoms could indicate a more serious condition.
If you are suffering with a stomach bug, visit us at Doctors Express of Timonium. We can help alleviate the symptoms and get you rehydrated.
Introducing Doctors Express Timonium’s new medical director Dr. Patricia Snello Dillen. Dr. Snello Dillen has more than 30 years’ experience practicing emergency medicine. Our former medical director Dr. Teaette Louderback is returning to primary care practice closer to her home.