Norovirus symptoms: Six signs of winter bug ‘worse than any cold’ sweeping UK

With all the different viruses that spread in the colder months it feels almost inevitable that we will come down with some kind of winter bug. The cooler temperatures as well as the fact we spend more time indoors with other people makes certain illnesses more easily spread.

While cases of Covid have remained high and colds and flu are still circulating, the NHS has also reported a significant increase in norovirus patients. In the last week of November, an average of 351 people were in hospital with symptoms of the bug every day, compared to 126 in the same period in 2022.

Also known as the “winter vomiting bug”, norovirus can be “unpleasant” and contagious. The health body is therefore urging people to look out for any symptoms and to stay home if unwell.

In a TikTok video, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust (SWB NHS Trust) listed the signs to look for.

They also urged people to practise good hygiene by washing their hands with soap and water to avoid spreading the virus.

A SWB nurse revealed six key symptoms that could mean you have norovirus.

In the video she said: “Are you suffering from nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea?

“You may also have a high temperature, headaches or aching feelings in your arms and legs.”

Luckily most cases of norovirus can be treated at home.

“You can usually treat yourself at home,” the nurse said. “The most important thing is to rest and drink plenty of fluids.

“You should see symptoms start to go away within a couple of days.”

If you experience symptoms you should not have contact with others until two days after they have stopped.

The nurse continued: “Please stay at home until you see your sickness and diarrhoea has stopped for at least two days as this is when you’re most infectious.

“Practising good hand hygiene is really important. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water is the best way to stop this bug from spreading.”

However, she added: “Please be mindful that alcohol gel does not kill norovirus.

“If you are concerned about severe symptoms or need advice, please contact NHS 111.”

In an update from NHS England, health bosses said the impact on hospitals from seasonal viruses was likely to be worsened by the current cold weather.

“We all know somebody who has had some kind of nasty winter virus in the last few weeks,” said Sir Stephen Powis, NHS England’s medical director.

“Today’s data shows this is starting to trickle through to hospital admissions, with a much higher volume of norovirus cases compared to last year, and the continued impact of infections like flu and RSV in children on hospital capacity – all likely to be exacerbated by this week’s cold weather.”

He added: “As ever, the public can also play their part by using services in the usual way – by calling 999 in an emergency and using NHS 111 for other health conditions – and by getting their Covid and flu jabs if eligible.”

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