With the weather getting colder, we can expect to see winter illnesses coming to the fore, such as diarrhoea and vomiting, which is often caused by norovirus. Such infections are highly contagious so contact with other people should be minimised to avoid rapid spread.
So, Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (L&D) is asking anyone planning to visit its hospitals to stay away if they or their family members have had diarrhoea, vomiting or ‘flu-like’ symptoms in the last four days.
This will help keep the ‘winter vomiting bug’ or norovirus away from vulnerable patients and staff who could pass it on. Symptoms of norovirus include diarrhoea and vomiting and, just like flu, the virus can seriously affect vulnerable patients.
Chief Nurse at the L&D, Pat Reid, said: “People want to see friends and relatives in hospital as often as they can. However, by visiting while they’re ill with a stomach bug, they can easily bring the virus into hospital. This can be particularly serious for people who are already ill or who have a long-term condition.”
Norovirus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly anywhere that people are gathered, such as schools or offices, especially during colder months. Hospitals are public buildings with hundreds (or thousands) of visitors every day. That is why the NHS asks people to think carefully before visiting hospitals if they or anyone in their family has even mild symptoms of stomach upset.
Good hand hygiene can help to limit the spread of the infection and there are some simple steps that the public can take to help stop a norovirus spreading:
If you have norovirus, the best thing you can do is rest, and take plenty of non-caffeinated drinks to avoid dehydration. Don’t visit your GP surgery or local A&E. You should recover naturally at home with no specific treatment, although over the counter medicines, such as rehydration powders and paracetamol can help to alleviate symptoms.
If you are worried about your symptoms you can ring NHS 111 or visit your local pharmacy. They will be able to provide advice, especially for those who are at greater risk of dehydration from diarrhoea and vomiting, such as children under the age of five or the elderly.
For more information and advice about winter illnesses, click here