Nurse Bridgid Tackles the Norovirus

It’s the same thing every year…just as the department stores start putting up the holiday decorations, kids everywhere come down with the stomach flu.  Why should this year be any different?  After a brief exposure to the stomach flu on Monday afternoon, I’m in holding pattern…waiting to see if I managed to kill the germs quickly enough or if we are all in for a long week.

In the meantime, I checked in with Nurse Bridgid to see what to look for, what to expect, and how to prevent the illness from entering our lives again.  Do you know Nurse Bridgid?  She uses her nursing knowledge to blog about all things medical.  You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.  But for right now, you can find her right here…

Many people are coming down with rather similar symptoms lately: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, & cramping.  There is a virus that is going around, which spreads quickly, and you could be at risk. I wanted to discuss what the Norovirus is, how to know you have it, treatments, and, most importantly, prevention!

What is the Norovirus?
It is actually the name for a group of viruses that all act similarly, if not the same, on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and cause nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, etc. and are thought of as a gastroenteritis (an infection of the GI tract). They were once referred to as the “Norwalk Like” viruses after an outbreak of these viruses in Norwalk, Ohio in the early 1970′s. They also gained a lot of press after hundreds (if not thousands) of guests on cruise ships were getting infected, and ships had to go to port due to such high rates of illness (If I ever even ponder taking a cruise, I remember this fun time, and I’m all set; could you imagine how horrible that must have been? Gross!) The tough part of the Norovirus is that the virus strains are highly virulent, in that they spread from person to person quickly and easily, and infections from these viruses are usually at the highest during cold winter months. That is a true bummer for all of us living here in New England! Fun fact? Norovirus is the leading cause of food-related gastroenteritis in the United States.  Another fun fact: You will never forget how miserable you feel while infected!

What are the symptoms?
Nausea
Vomiting
Diarrhea
Stomach cramps
Low grade fever, chills
Headache
Muscle cramps
*the symptoms can occur very suddenly 12-24 hours after exposure to the virus, and normally last around 12 hours and people feel better within 48 hours (see below: you are still a carrier for much longer and can infect others)

How is it spread?
Most often it is spread from person to person through contaminated food and/or water, caring for an infected person, or through contact with contaminated surfaces. It can live on hard surfaces that are infected for around 12 hours and has been found in infected carpet fibers (i.e. an area that someone threw up on) for up to 12 days, plus it can withstand pretty high amounts of chlorine before being killed off. The viruses live in the stool (poop) and vomit from people with the virus, so when caring for children, elderly, or anyone who needs a lot of assistance with care/cleanup, there is a high rate of spreading the infection. You are contagious from the moment you are infected (even before you feel ill) until a full three days after your symptoms end! Which makes this virus so quick to spread especially in places where people live/work closely together, and it is hard to stop the spread once it starts.

What is the treatment?
There is no vaccine or antiviral for these viruses, unfortunately. And as we all know antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, so they are useless against the Norovirus. So you are really just trying to treat/prevent the dehydration that can occur after the diarrhea and vomiting; fluids such as gatorade and coconut water will help to replace fluids and nutrients lost, but really any fluids that you can get in and keep down will help to prevent severe dehydration. If your mouth and tongue are really dry and you cannot make saliva, you feel dizzy when changing positions, you aren’t urinating (or it is very dark), you are clinically dehydrated.  When dehydrated, if you are unable to take in fluids, you should go to the Emergency Department for intravenous (IV) fluids. With children, they often will become restless, cry without tears, and have dry oral cavities; they need treatment with IV fluids if they refuse, or cannot keep down, fluids. The best assessment of dehydration status is to watch your pee (frequency, amount, and color- if it appears on the darker side, drink more).

How do I prevent this from happening?
Wash your hands FREQUENTLY!!
Eat food that is thoroughly cooked if you are eating out (or unsure of food quality)
Wash fruits and veggies before eating them
Wash areas that have become contaminated with hot soapy water or bleach
Immediately wash all clothes, bed linens, etc that have become in contact with vomit or stool of an infected person
If you do get infected, avoid contact with others and preparing food until three days after symptoms are gone

Generally, the Norovirus is a nasty couple of days where you feel horrible (absolutely miserable), but it always ends and there are no long-term effects. But if you have chronic illnesses or other active diseases, it can be deadly because of the effects of dehydration and the electrolyte imbalances that can occur. In children, the elderly, and chronically ill, you need to make sure they are taking in fluids with nutrients (pedialyte, Gatorade, coconut water)and if they cannot, you need to seek medical assistance.  Even if you are vomiting, still try to push those fluids…even absorbing small amounts are better than nothing!

So wash your hands, cook that food, and steer clear of anyone with those symptoms and you will be Norovirus free this winter!

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to pour bleach all over my house.  Thanks, Nurse Bridgid!
**Originally posted on Nurse Bridgid on 12/28/2011.  Reprinted with permission.
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Project Happy Week 25

It’s officially starting to feel like summer around here!  Lazy mornings, swimming, and spending all day outside are a welcome change, indeed.

Sean took three days off this weekend (which is practically unheard of around here), and we enjoyed every minute of it.  That’s a lie.  We didn’t enjoy dealing with ADT and Time Warner Cable…but we enjoyed the rest of it.

Sean and Riley have a sweet little special time activity when he’s home for bedtime.  They wrap themselves up in blankets and read bedtime stories on the balcony off of our master bedroom.  I finally got a picture of it in action…

Isn’t that the cutest?  It melts my heart…

finally took the time to dig out the old (possibly not so clean) sand from Liam’s sandbox and Sean brought in six 50 pound bags of fresh, new play sand.  Wow.  Sand gets really dirty over the course of one year!  Liam is in heaven…he is officially back to full-time digging status.

And Riley and I decided on matching manicures the other day…can you guess who chose the color?

I started this week off right with an early morning trip to the grocery store and a mid-day workout.  I like this summer schedule, for sure!

What made you happy this week?

Maybe just one quick favor?  I’m over at The Writer Revived today (and again on Wednesday) for a little Q&A.  Won’t you stop by?  See you there!

Porch Swing Stories

When Ashley asked me to share a story for her new series, I was practically jumping out of my skin:  Partially due to excitement, partially due to nerves.  Ashley is a great friend; the kind of friend who is always there when you need her.  She’s also a great writer.  She often brings me to tears…even when her stories are happy.  So I wanted to share a story that I wouldn’t normally share somewhere else.  I wanted to go just a little bit deeper for my dear friend Ashley.

Please head over and check out my Porch Swing Story.  Sometimes it takes the wisdom of a child to help us find peace with life’s big decisions…

Practical Moms Feature: Creating Balance

 

Today is the first day of a new feature here at Practical Parenting.  I’ve had the great pleasure of guest posting for a number of other bloggers along my journey, and now it’s time to give back.  There are many great writers out there with different areas of focus and interesting information to share.  Today I will start sharing some of these wonderful bloggers with you.

Meet Jessica.

Jessica is a very busy mommy of two.  When she’s not  getting her kids off to school, or to bed, or to a play date, she’s blogging over at her site.  When she’s not blogging at her site, she’s writing for Eli Rose Social Media…which is quickly becoming the go-to source for all things technical in blog world.  When she’s not doing that, she’s tending to her amazing garden…I’m serious friends, this woman does it all.  I recently asked Jessica to share a few tips on how she balances family and blogging.  Here’s what she had to say:

Creating Balance

I’ve been blogging for about 9 months now and I can honestly say that balance between being a blogger and being a mom is extremely difficult. Both can be more than full time jobs.
I still have not found the perfect balance between the two but I have learned some tips that can help.
1) Schedule your time. Use a posting schedule for your blog so you always know what days you will post on, scheduled time to write posts, and schedule time dedicated to all the other aspects of blogging (Twitter, commenting, etc). I generally do most of my blogging after my kids have gone to bed at night.
2) Unplug occasionally. Social media can take up a lot of time if you let it. Allow yourself to unplug without regret. I usually do this on the weekends and when I return to the computer on Monday morning I feel refreshed.
3) Don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s impossible to be on top of all the social media outlets and be a parent. Instead focus on a few social media sites that you get the best return from and spend the rest of your time with your family. For me, I focus most of my online time reading blogs and tweeting. I spend a little time with Facebook and StumbleUpon but the rest of my time I spend with my family.
4) Get a smartphone. I have no idea how anyone can keep up with emails, Twitter, and blogging without one. A smartphone will allow you to stay updated online without always having to be tied to the computer. Having email and Twitter on my phone has allowed me a lot of freedom while still keeping up with the online world.
5) Remember what’s important. At the end of the day your family is the most important thing, not the stats you have on your blog or your Klout score. Don’t forget that.
What tips have you learned that help you balance being a parent and a blogger?

Please stop by and visit Jessica after leaving her a comment here…

Have some practical tips of your own to share?  Send me an email!

Guest Post (Preparing for Preschool)

Today my good friend Jessica asked me to write a guest post for her about preschool preparation.  She will be sending her twins off to school in the Fall and, like any great mommy, she’s thinking ahead about ways to prepare.  Please stop by and visit me over at Four Plus an Angel today!

Preparing for School

If this is your first time visiting Jessica, you will want to stay a while.  Her kindness and inner strength are inspiring beyond anything that I can describe here.  Take your time and read a while…

Check back later this week for tips on making the transition to stay at home mom.