Protect yourself from the dreaded winter bug

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Has anyone you know suffered from a horrid stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhoea? Every year the winter norovirus affects up to one million people in Britain.

Norovirus can be spread through contact with an infected person, through contact with surfaces or objects that are contaminated with the virus, or by consuming contaminated food or water.

Once infected noticeable symptoms will start within one-two days, such as nausea, projectile vomiting and diarrhoea. There may also be a raised temperature, headaches, stomach cramps and aching limbs.

A full recovery should be reached within two-three days.

A temporary complication of the condition however can be severe dehydration which can be dangerous, especially for children and the elderly.

It can lead to dizziness, confusion, dry mouth and lips, darkened and small quantities of urine and headaches. Anti-emetics can be used to keep the nausea at bay. It is not recommended to take agents to prevent diarrhoea as that's the body's natural reaction to removing the bug from the system and this needs to happen. Paracetamol and/or ibuprofen can be taken to control the temperature and pain from stomach cramps. It's worth speaking to your local pharmacist.

Once nausea is under control, light foods such as soup, rice, pasta and bread should be consumed to keep up energy.

Avoid dairy and any stronger tasting or acid producing foods.

Drink plenty of fluids including rehydration drinks.

If you've got the norovirus it's important to protect everyone else. Clean any kitchen work tops or bathroom surfaces you've touched with disinfectant spray, including door handles and stair banisters.

Note: This information is based on regularly updated NHS guidelines and recommendations. It is designed to complement and not replace the advice given by your existing family doctor or health professional. Please discuss any changes to your health or health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.