By Molly Mackenzie
I absolutely love being a mom of four boys but there are a few things I was clueless and shocked about when I became a parent. One of them, you will probably 100% agree with me…
The first time you and your family come down with the symptoms of (what most people call the stomach flu/stomach bug) technically called–norovirus. AHHH!
I CALL IT PURE HELL!
Please brace yourself as I walk you through an absolute true story of stomach flu survival, explain what I’ve found regarding symptoms and causes of this horrific virus, plus a list of 13 handy supplies to help you and your family prevent and cope during your next stomach flu.
So you believe your day is going smoothly when your child approaches you (the random time you decide to feed hot-dogs and mac ‘n cheese for dinner) and says, “Mommy, my tummy hurts.”
You kindly console your child and hope for the best, finishing the bedtime routine and prepare yourself for a nice stretch of sleep.
UMM, NOT SO MUCH
The next thing you know, it’s 1am and you automatically wake up when you hear a pint-sized cough coming from another room. This little cough becomes complicated with noise, increasing to a larger volume.
Suddenly you are sprinting into your child’s room as they proceed to projectile vomit a mix of hot dog chunks and mac ‘n cheese all over their bed, the wall and your precious carpet. You immediately strip their throw-up-soaked pajamas and carefully place the load into a 3 hour sanitize mode.
The vomit smell is lingering so you escort your child into the bath with a high degree of optimism thinking you can put your child back to bed for at least 5 more hours of sleep.
KEEP DREAMING SWEETHEART
Depending on the severity of the stomach flu, there will be at least three more wake-ups that involve you or your spouse bolting half awake down the hallway trying to catch the throw up before it ends up on the carpet again.
You continue the abusive cycle hour after hour, until your child finally settles and finally stops throwing up. You sleep from 4am to 6am.
SURVIVING ON 2 HOURS OF SLEEP
Your laundry is completely backed up from your overnight shift and now its time to drink a very strong cup of coffee, find enough inner strength to finish the morning routine and get the other kids to school on time. Fingers crossed they haven’t been exposed to the stomach flu (norovirus) overnight.
The thought of eating your own breakfast is just not happening because you have eternally lost your appetite.
You begin to feel a very overwhelming wave of nausea attack you from head to toe, like a heavy magnet is trying to pull you deep onto the ground. Panic sets in because you have mouths to feed, and little humans to pickup from school.
After drop off, you find yourself feeling a little “off” and small cold sweats start to invade your body…You say to yourself, “This is probably just in my head.”
LYING TO YOURSELF AGAIN!
You begin to feel a very overwhelming wave of nausea attack you from head to toe, like a heavy magnet is trying to suck you deep into the ground. Panic sets in because you have mouths to feed and little humans to pickup from school.
Your entire “to do” list flashes in your head as you bolt to the toilet and start throwing up for another round of norovirus insanity. This virus is something even your wildest nights in college will not prepare you for, and now you can truly add another parenting badge of honor to your list.
After agonizing over the stomach flu/stomach bug (norovirus) a few times over the last few years, I decided I wanted a few answers as to, “WHY and how could this be prevented?”
- WHAT IS NOROVIRUS?
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus is a common virus not related to the flu which is caused by the influenza virus. It’s the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea.
I was actually surprised to find that it’s highly contagious and transmitted in the feces of infected humans and animals as well. Plus, norovirus usually occurs in crowded environments such as cruise ships, day care centers, schools, hospitals and nursing homes.
- WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NOROVIRUS?
- HOW DOES NOROVIRUS SPREAD?
After reading further on the CDC website, I learned the virus spreads very fast and can easily contaminate food and water because it only requires a small amount of virus particles to make someone sick. Norovirus can spread via:
- contaminated food
- contaminated water
- through other sick people
- contaminated surfaces
*I found out most of the outbreaks of norovirus occur in food services and in a restaurant setting by infected workers touching raw fruits and vegetables with their hands.
- HOW LONG DOES NOROVIRUS LAST?
According to Mayo Clinic, for most people norovirus clears up within 12 to 48 hours and it is not life threatening. For some, including infants and older adults, vomiting and diarrhea can be severely dehydrating and require medical attention.
- HOW DO YOU PREVENT NOROVIRUS?
In addition, norovirus is extremely contagious and you can become infected more than once. Luckily there are options to prevent you from being infected by this horrible bug:
- Wash your hands very well after using the restroom or changing a baby’s diaper.
- Avoid contaminated food and water
- Wash fruits and vegetables before eating and cook seafood.
- Carefully throw away any vomit or diarrhea to avoid spreading norovirus through the air.
- Clean virus-contaminated areas with chlorine bleach and wear gloves if possible.
- Definitely keep your kids home from school/childcare and stay home from work yourself as you and your family may be contagious up to three days after your symptoms end.
- Do not travel until symptoms have ended.
- WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS FOR NOROVIRUS?
Unfortunately there are are no specific medications to treat people with norovirus. After reading a bit, I mostly learned you should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and try to rest and let your body heal.
As you already know, we have been through this as a family, so I thought it would be helpful to put together a stomach flu (norovirus) supply list. Keep scrolling to view the full list.
*Before trying any alternative or home remedies, you should consult your doctor.
Stomach Flu (Norovirus) Supply List
This handheld vacuum makes cleaning up soiled carpets so much easier. Especially if you have multiple kids vomiting at once. It's an extra bonus if you happen to have a pet also making messes.
You probably know the jingle quite well... "Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion, Upset Stomach, Diarrhea!!" I really hope this tune doesn't stick in your head. Either way, this stuff works!
12. B.R.A.T. Diet For Easy Digestion (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast)
13. Hydration During Norovirus Is Key
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. Again, always check with your doctor if you have any questions about over the counter remedies or medications. If you would like to view my other articles, I invite you to please checkout my blog. Cheers and stay well!