Norovirus in Children – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Norovirus, also known as stomach flu, is one of the most causes of diarrhea or vomiting in children in most parts of the world. This virus is highly contagious and can quickly spread where people contact each other, such as daycare centers, schools, cruise ships, etc. Learn more about the causes, symptoms, treatment, and other essential aspects of norovirus in toddlers and older children in this article.
What Is Norovirus?
Norovirus is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the intestines and stomach, leading to nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and other such symptoms in the affected people. Norovirus can affect people with weakened immunity, the elderly, and very young children.
How Does It Spread?
Norovirus is highly contagious, which means it spreads from one to another very rapidly. This means that if your child has come in direct contact with someone infected, there are high chances of catching this infection. Apart from direct exposure, even contacting someone contaminated with the virus can make the child sick. Again, places such as parks, swimming pools, or consuming contaminated food puts the child at an increased risk of catching the infection.
Symptoms of Norovirus in Children
If your child catches this infection, he may slip from a healthy state to feeling sick in a couple of days. Here are some symptoms of norovirus in kids:
- The child may experience low-grade fever
- The child may experience vomiting bouts
- The child may pass watery stools
- The child may complain of nausea
- The child may have a low-grade fever
- The child may experience chills
- The child may experience muscle aches and headache
- The child may feel tired or fatigue
These symptoms usually last for a few days. However, sometimes these symptoms may get more severe and last longer than usual, especially in younger kids and the elderly.
Is There Any Treatment for Norovirus?
There is no treatment to treat this uncomfortable condition, and the best thing to do is get the symptoms under control. So, make sure that you manage the symptoms effectively by ensuring ample intake of fluids to ward off any dehydration. Feed light or easily digestible food to your child that is healthy and good for his sluggish digestion. Also, make sure that your child gets ample rest because that is the best healing mechanism for the body. You can distract the child by making them watch their favorite movie, read their favorite book, or do anything they enjoy while resting!
How to Prevent Norovirus Infection in Children?
As we have discussed above, there is no cure for this highly contagious viral infection. Therefore, the thing that you can do is to reduce the chances of your child getting sick with norovirus. Here are some prevention techniques that may decrease the chances of norovirus in babies under 1, toddlers, and older kids too:
- Make sure you disinfect your home regularly. This includes disinfecting floors, doorknobs, sinks, toilets, and other areas of the frequently touched house.
- Discourage your child from touching his face, putting fingers inside the mouth, biting nails, or putting toys or other objects inside his mouth.
- Please encourage your child to wash his hands regularly with soap and water. If soap is not handy, then using hand sanitizer should be encouraged.
- If you catch the virus, make sure you do not prepare food for your family for a few days.
- Wash all clothes that have been soiled with vomit or diarrhea.
- In the case of younger kids or babies, make sure that you handle soiled diapers and seal them with care. Do not forget to wash your hands thoroughly to avoid spreading the infections to other family members.
- Please do not send your child to school until his symptoms subside to avoid spreading the infection to other kids at school.
- Ensure that you wash any fruits and vegetables you get from the store before them to your child.
The WHO or World Health Organization has encouraged vaccines for this viral disease as a priority. A vaccine has been tested on the adult population, but the same has not been tested on kids.
When to See a Doctor?
Most cases of stomach flu get better on their own, and your child will start feeling better within a few days. However, if you think that your child’s symptoms are not improving or they are not recovering, it is an indication that you need to get in touch with your doctor.
Sometimes norovirus in infants and young kids may cause dehydration, which can lead to more severe complications. Therefore, look out for symptoms for dehydration in babies and young kids that can include dark-colored (deep yellow or orange) pee, fewer wet diapers, reduced or no tears while crying, lack of interest in drinking, etc. If you notice any of these symptoms, you must get in touch with your doctor at the earliest.
Also, if your child’s vomit is yellowish or greenish, it could be an indication of bowel obstruction. Though this may occur very rarely, if it does, make sure you take prompt action to report it to your doctor!
How Long Does It Last?
The virus can stay up to eight weeks in the body, which means that he may infect others around him if a person is infected with the virus. However, the virus gets weaker as time passes. If a child is not showing any symptoms for 48 hours or more at a stretch, this means he may go back to school.
It is highly discomforting for the parents to see their kids suffering from any disease or infection. If this viral infection is what your kid is suffering from, it is essential to maintain your calm and ensure that your child takes adequate rest, drinks ample amounts of fluid, and eats a healthy diet. In due course of time, this infection will subside, and your child will be hale and hearty. However, if at any given point in time you feel that you are not able to manage the symptoms or your child appears to be too sick, do not delay to seek professional help and assistance!