Norovirus – The Winter Vomiting Bug

Norovirus is a very contagious group of stomach viruses that cause vomiting and diarrhea. It is commonly referred to as the “winter vomiting bug” because this is when norovirus spreads most rapidly. Some people call norovirus the “stomach flu,” but norovirus is not related to the influenza virus that causes the flu.

How Does Norovirus Spread?

People of all ages can contract norovirus. You can also become infected multiple times in your life because many different strains of norovirus exist.

The virus spreads readily through schools, office buildings, grocery stores, and other public places. You may become infected if you:

  • Eat food or drink beverages contaminated with norovirus
  • Touch contaminated surfaces or objects and then put your fingers in your mouth
  • Share food or eating utensils with a sick person
  • Have close contact with an infected individual while providing care

The best ways to prevent spreading norovirus include:

  • Regular hand washing
  • Handling and preparing food safely
  • Disinfecting surfaces often
  • Washing contaminated laundry before reuse

Norovirus Symptoms

Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines, a condition known as gastroenteritis. Symptoms usually develop within 12 to 48 hours after exposure to norovirus, and the illness lasts one to three days. Be aware that you remain contagious for a few days after you recover.

The most common symptoms of norovirus include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain

You may also experience:

  • Fever
  • Chills and sweating
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue

Due to frequent vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration is a common complication of norovirus. Young children, older adults, and people with certain underlying conditions are most susceptible. Be on the lookout for these signs of dehydration:

  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Decreased need to urinate
  • Dizziness when standing up

If you think someone you are caring for is severely dehydrated, call your doctor. IV fluids may be needed in severe cases.

Norovirus Treatment

There is currently no specific medicine for treating norovirus. The infection doesn’t respond to antibiotics or antiviral drugs, and there is also no vaccine for preventative purposes. Fortunately, you can expect to recover on your own if you have a healthy immune system. In the meantime, combat your symptoms and avoid dehydration with these treatments:

  • Take over-the-counter stomach pain medicine
  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce your fever
  • Drink plenty of water, broth, tea, sports drinks, and other liquids
  • Only eat mild food to prevent upsetting your stomach

Norovirus Care in Texas

Norovirus is typically non-life-threatening, as COVID-19 can be, but you should seek emergency medical attention if you experience severe symptoms or dehydration. Exceptional Emergency Center is a freestanding, 24-hour clinic offering norovirus treatment in Amarillo, Beaumont, Brownsville, Ft. Worth, Harlingen, Livingston, Lubbock, Port Arthur, Saches/Garland, Orange, and Tyler, TX. We encourage you to check in online for minimal wait times upon arrival.

To enjoy the best ER care in Texas, schedule an appointment with us today!

Scroll to Top
Exceptional ER Logo


The Exceptional Emergency Room staff and physicians care about you and your loved ones. We are here 24/7 for all your emergency care needs.

  1. If you are experiencing fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, weakness, numbness, sensory loss, or any other emergent medical problems, please call 911 or seek medical care immediately at your nearest Emergency Room.
  2. To provide the highest quality emergency medical care to our communities, we are directing all routine COVID testing to outpatient community resources.
  3. Testing through local resources, including your primary care doctor, urgent care, walk-in clinic, or local health department, is appropriate under the following circumstances:
    1. If you have been exposed to a person known to have COVID, and you do not have symptoms, we recommend that you self-quarantine at home and seek testing 4-5 days after exposure. It often takes this long for the infection to be detected by routine lab testing.
    2. If you have no symptoms or very mild symptoms, outpatient testing is also typically appropriate.
    3. Please follow this link for local COVID testing resources.
  4. If you have tested negative, you should still self-quarantine for 14 days from the day of suspected exposure as it can take anywhere from 2-14 days to come down with symptoms of this infection.
  5. Please kindly limit your phone time with our Emergency Rooms as the phone lines are needed to communicate with other health care entities and to provide patients their test results. Thank you for your understanding during this trying time.