Stomach Flu Symptoms: What Happens When You Get the Norovirus?

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Campylobacter is one virus that can cause food poisoning. Photo by: De Wood, Pooley, USDA

Campylobacter can cause food poisoning. Photo by: De Wood, Pooley, USDA

Norovirus Symptoms: When to Call a Doctor

Most people recover from the stomach virus without complications, but dehydration can occur and become life threatening. Although dehydration doesn’t seem like a big deal, it can be a serious event.

Signs of dehydration in adults includes; excessive thirst, dark urine, little urine output, dizziness, and dry mouth. In children and infants look for these signs: Fewer than six wet diapers a day or if your child hasn’t had any or very little urine output for eight hours. In infants, a sunken fontanel (soft spot on the top of their head) is a sign of dehydration. Also, a baby with a dry mouth, who cries with few or no tears, and is unusually sleepy or unresponsive may be dehydrated. If severe dehydration is not treated, seizures, brain damage, and death can occur.

  • For adults, if you haven’t been able to keep down liquids for 24 hours, have a fever above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, have been vomiting for more than two days, have been vomiting blood or have blood in your bowels, you should call your doctor.
  • If your child or infant is sick with the stomach virus, you should call their pediatrician when they have a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, if they’re in a lot of pain, or vomiting, or if they seem very tired, unresponsive, or irritable, or have blood in their stools.

Stomach Virus Symptoms vs. Food Poisoning

With so many viruses going around this winter, it can be hard to determine if what you have is the stomach virus or food poisoning. Although stomach flu cramps can be painful, the most important thing to watch out for are signs of dehydration, especially in infants, children, the elderly, and those with a weakened immune system.

Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevent the spread of Norovirus. (2013). Accessed February 13, 2013.

Mayo Clinic. Viral gastroenteritis. (2011). Accessed February 13, 2013.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Foodborne Illnesses. (2012). Accessed February 13, 2013.

PubMedHealth. Viral gastroenteritis. (2012).  Dehydration. (2011). Food Poisoning. (2011). Accessed February 13, 2013.

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