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Norovirus does the rounds every winter and is one of those illnesses that is very hard to avoid. If your child gets it, it鈥檚 pretty unpleasant, and you鈥檒l want to know how you can help your child feel as comfortable as possible. This article talks you through the symptoms, what to do if your child gets ill and the circumstances where you may need to seek medical help.

So, what is Norovirus?

Norovirus causes diarrhoea and vomiting and is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK. It’s called the “winter vomiting bug” simply because it’s more common in winter, but you can catch it at any time of year (oh the joy!).

Norovirus can be very, very unpleasant for both your child and for you having to deal with it (!) but it usually only lasts a few days, phew!

What are the symptoms?

Your child is likely to have norovirus if they:

路聽聽聽聽聽 Suddenly begin feeling very sick with no other likely cause

路聽聽聽聽聽 Projectile vomit

路聽聽聽聽聽 Have a lot of watery diarrhoea

As well as the above they may also have:

路聽聽聽聽聽 A mild fever

路聽聽聽聽聽 A headache

路聽聽聽聽聽 Painful stomach cramps

路聽聽聽聽聽 Aching limbs

The symptoms appear 1-2 days after infection, and usually last 2-3 days.

What can I do to help my child?

Make sure they get LOTS of fluids

The most important thing is to help your child drink lots of fluids so they don鈥檛 get dehydrated due to all the fluid they are losing 鈥 clear fluids such as water or weak squash are best for older children. Do not give fruit juice or fizzy drinks as they can make symptoms worse.

Carry on breast or bottle feeding your baby 鈥 if using formula, don鈥檛 make it weaker than usual. If your baby is being sick, try small feeds more often than usual in between episodes of sickness.

Stay at home and get lots of rest

Norovirus spreads like wildfire, so you should treat it at home and don鈥檛 send your child back to nursery or school, or mix with other families, until 48 hours after all symptoms have stopped. Encourage your little one to sleep or rest as much as possible 鈥 norovirus really takes it out of you and your usual bouncy child is likely to be pretty lethargic, so lots of snuggling up with duvets and books is advised!

If they feel hungry . . .

Children鈥檚 resilience is amazing, and whilst for an adult with norovirus, eating is probably the last thing on our mind, children鈥檚 tummies can often fancy a little something! It鈥檚 okay for them to eat, so if they feel like it, try them with some plain foods at first, such as bread, pasta or rice to see how they get on.

Don鈥檛 worry if they don鈥檛 want to eat at all, just carry on making sure they have lots of fluids.

Can I give any medicines?

Children under 12 years of age should not be given medication to stop diarrhoea.

You can give your child a dose of paracetamol based medicine to ease any fever, headache or painful limbs which can be caused by norovirus.

So I鈥檓 staying at home to avoid spreading the infection (something we are all very used to now!) 鈥 but what if I need to seek help?

You don鈥檛 normally need to see a doctor if your child has norovirus, however, you鈥檙e advised to ring 111 if:

  • Your child stops breast or bottle feeding whilst they are ill
  • Your child keeps being sick, and cannot keep any fluids down
  • You notice signs of dehydration, such as fewer wet nappies, especially in a baby as they are at greater risk. In an older child, passing very small amounts of urine, or no urine at all means they are dehydrated
  • Your child has diarrhoea for more than 7 days or vomiting for more than 2 days

Is there any way I can prevent my child getting norovirus?

This is one bug that is really difficult to avoid, especially if your child regularly mixes with lots of other children as norovirus loves close contact and spreads easily through infected particles in the air. We all know little kids LOVE to put things in their mouths, and the virus spreads very easily from an infected person to an object and then onwards.

We鈥檝e all got very used to using hand sanitiser but interestingly, alcohol hand gel does not kill norovirus! So it鈥檚 back to good old thorough hand washing with lots of soap and water as your best line of defence.

Oh, and don鈥檛 eat oysters as they can carry norovirus 鈥 but chances are you weren鈥檛 thinking of giving them to your 3 year old anyway!

So, fingers crossed you and the family can avoid norovirus, but hopefully you now feel a bit more confident if it does strike!

The Mini First Aid Team x

For more information please visit www.nhs.uk or www.nhsinform.scot