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Norovirus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK. It’s also called the winter vomiting bug because it’s more common in winter, although you can catch it at any time of the year.
Norovirus can be very unpleasant but it usually clears up by itself in a few days.
You can normally look after yourself or your child at home.
Try to avoid going to your GP, as norovirus can spread to others very easily. Call your GP or NHS 111 if you’re concerned or need any advice.
You’re likely to have norovirus if you experience:
Some people also have a slight fever, headaches, painful stomach cramps and aching limbs.
The symptoms appear one to two days after you become infected and typically last for up to 2 or 3 days.
If you experience sudden diarrhoea and vomiting, the best thing to do is to stay at home until you’re feeling better. There’s no cure for norovirus, so you have to let it run its course.
You don’t usually need to get medical advice unless there’s a risk of a more serious problem.
To help ease your own or your child’s symptoms:
Babies and young children, especially if they’re less than a year old, have a greater risk of becoming dehydrated.
Read advice about looking after babies and children under 5 who have diarrhoea and vomiting.
Norovirus can spread very easily, so you should wash your handsregularly while you’re ill and stay off work or school until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have cleared to reduce the risk of passing it on.
You don’t normally need to see your GP if you think you or your child has norovirus, as there’s no specific treatment for it.
Antibiotics won’t help because it’s caused by a virus.
Visiting your GP surgery with norovirus can put others at risk, so it’s best to call your GP or NHS 111 if you’re concerned or feel you need advice.
Get medical advice if:
Your GP may suggest sending off a sample of your stool to a laboratory to confirm whether you have norovirus or another infection.
Norovirus spreads very easily in public places such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools.
You can catch it if small particles of vomit or poo from an infected person get into your mouth, such as through:
A person with norovirus is most infectious from when their symptoms start until 48 hours after all their symptoms have passed, although they may also be infectious for a short time before and after this.
You can get norovirus more than once because the virus is always changing, so your body is unable to build up long-term resistance to it.
It’s not always possible to avoid getting norovirus, but following the advice below can help stop the virus spreading.
Read more about preventing germs spreading.