The Nasty Norovirus

AKA the Norwalk virus.
AKA the bod­ily flu­ids virus.
AKA you-are-not-going-to-work-or-meet­ing-any­one-for-din­ner virus

Norovirus, com­ple­ments of the Guardian

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?

  1. 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.
  2. Water. You want to sip water when you can because you are going to be dehyd­rated. I make sure to have at least 14 cup of water to every cup of ginger-based tea or ale I con­sume. Trying to remem­ber this will be challenging :)
  3. 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).
  4. 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)
  5. Dry crack­ers. Even for the GF, you will want a dry crack­er or two as you start to get a bit better.
  6. 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.

Recovery mode

So you are through the worst of it, and the thought of food is not turn­ing your stom­ach. What should you add?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 :)

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