AKA the Norwalk virus.
AKA the bodily fluids virus.
AKA you-are-not-going-to-work-or-meeting-anyone-for-dinner virus
As much as the influenza virus (the flu) is not a “fun” virus (not like any virus is “fun” to have), I always dread viruses like the norovirus. Violent vomiting and diarrhea is not really my idea of a good time. That, and when I’m nauseous I can’t lie down. I have memories of my childhood sleeping sitting up during the stomach flu because horizontal = game over.
Imagine my surprise when 2 am last week I was ripped from sleep with the awareness that I was going to be sick. At first I wondered was it just heartburn or an upset tummy…but no, about 1 minute later I realized it was definitely NOT just an upset tummy.
How do you know you have the norovirus?
You probably won’t know you have it until you start to vomit. It will then be abundantly clear.
How do I protect myself against infection?
Wash your hands frequently with REAL soap. Don’t bother with the antibacterial stuff because it’s a virus, not a bacteria, for one, and secondly because antibacterial soaps make super-bacteria anyway that just get stronger.
What happens if I get the virus?
Get ready for 12 – 24 hours of vomiting and diarrhea. Your stomach muscles will hurt, your throat will be raw, and you will be exhausted. STAY HOME. No one wants you vomiting with little warning. You will survive…it won’t feel good, but you will survive.
Your home-care package for the norovirus
So what do you need to get through the worst of it?
- Ginger. Ginger tea (cool or room temperature) made with tea bags, or ginger ale left to the air to let the carbonation decrease. Ginger is incredibly soothing for nausea and anti-inflammatory to boot. You will want a decent amount to sip on if you can.
- Water. You want to sip water when you can because you are going to be dehydrated. I make sure to have at least 1⁄4 cup of water to every cup of ginger-based tea or ale I consume. Trying to remember this will be challenging :)
- An electrolyte replacement. I’m not a fan of Gatorade, but it’s important to get those minerals in like potassium, magnesium, and sodium so if you have to, do it. My go-to are mineral waters because I like the carbonation or coconut water (although that might be too sweet if you feel ill).
- Broth. You may not feel like eating right away, but as you are on the mend drink veggie, chicken, or beef broth (organic if possible) to get electrolytes and some good stuff that broth brings (garlic, onion, thyme — all antimicrobial and immune-boosting)
- Dry crackers. Even for the GF, you will want a dry cracker or two as you start to get a bit better.
- Sleep. Don’t fight it.
Not exactly rocket science, right? Exactly. The point is to get through it and end up on the other side.
So you are through the worst of it, and the thought of food is not turning your stomach. What should you add?
- Probiotics are important. Your digestive tract will be a bit…confused…and it will need a reminder on how to behave properly again. Additionally, higher amounts of good bacteria in your GI tract will prevent infections from occurring to you in your vulnerable state, and strengthen your immune system after this violation.
- Greens. I missed vegetables for those few days, and your body will be craving some of those nutrients (B vitamins, zinc, folate to name a few). If raw doesn’t appeal, throw it in a warming soup.
- Teas like ginger (if you can deal with drinking it again) and peppermint will soothe inflamed mucosa, and nettle tea (a personal favourite) is not only anti-inflammatory but contains potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, D, and K to name a few vitamins and nutrients that you may have lost.
- Humour. Read this article on a hilarious take of the norovirus. Make sure you are still not feeling ill or it might start up a new cycle of fun :)