Stomach bug? Take care...and don’t overshare!

Waiting room
Waiting room

DOCTOR CALLING: By Dr Kevin Hill

When it comes to sickness and diarrhoea, no-one likes it when you overshare – particularly if that means spreading a virus around.

That’s why people in south Lincolnshire are being urged to look after others as well as themselves if they are unfortunate enough to be laid low with a nasty stomach bug this winter.

Norovirus is particularly widespread at this time of year, and diarrhoea and vomiting are among its symptoms. It’s also very easily spread through contaminated surfaces and close contact with other people.

There is no cure for norovirus but it usually clears up by itself within a few days, and the best way to recover is through self-care at home – getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids and washing hands regularly with soap and water.

There’s nothing your GP can prescribe for norovirus, and sitting in a doctor’s waiting room if you have the bug can put others at risk – and is a sure-fire way to share your misfortune with others.

There’s no denying that the symptoms of norovirus can be pretty unpleasant, and many people’s first instinct when they’re struck down by the bug is to head straight to their GP.
With something like a stomach bug, however, looking after yourself at home can often be the best option. If you need guidance on what you can do to help yourself get better, you should contact your local pharmacist – they can provide quick advice without you having to wait for an appointment or sit in a waiting room.

If you are worried your stomach complaint is something more than a simple bug, a pharmacist will be able to let you know if they think a visit to the doctors is needed.

If your local pharmacy is closed, call NHS111 for free and a trained advisor can talk you through the best course of action.

Norovirus is sometimes known as D&V or the winter vomiting bug. Symptoms include suddenly feeling sick, projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people can have a slight fever, headache, painful stomach cramps and aching limbs, too.

The symptoms start around 12 to 72 hours after picking up the infection and can last up to 60 hours. You should stay at home for at least 48 hours after the last symptoms have cleared.

Anyone suffering from norovirus can help to stop the spread of the bug through good hand hygiene using soap and water rather than alcohol hand gels, which do not kill the virus.

For more information on staying well this winter visit www.nhs.uk/staywell