Norovirus, otherwise known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’, can be an unpleasant illness. And while it causes diarrhoea and vomiting that can leave you feeling quite ill, norovirus has no specific treatment.
It’s usually best to stay at home and let the virus take its course, but there are steps you can take to feel a little better while that happens. Staying hydrated can help to relieve symptoms and prevent complications while you recover, and painkillers can help to relieve a fever or aches and pains.
If you’re interested in trying natural alternatives, there are several ways to soothe your symptoms and nourish your body without medication. As an added bonus, you probably have most of the things you need in your house.
Read on to discover some natural remedies that may help ease norovirus symptoms.
Food and drink for norovirus
The BRAT diet
Norovirus can make it difficult to keep food down. If your appetite starts to return while you still have symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting, you should still stick to simple, easy-to-digest foods until you’ve fully recovered. The BRAT diet is an ideal option. While it isn’t a scientifically-proved treatment for norovirus, it’s gentle on the stomach and can help to boost your energy levels.
The BRAT diet consists of:
- Bananas - you can lose potassium from vomiting and diarrhoea, so maintain your potassium levels by snacking on a banana
- Rice - swap brown rice for white rice when you have norovirus as it’s easier for your body to digest
- Apple sauce - apple sauce contains carbohydrates and sugar that can boost your energy levels, while a substance in apples (pectin) can help with diarrhoea
- Toast - white bread is easier to digest than wholegrain bread
Ginger and mint
Ginger can reduce nausea and vomiting, relieving inflammation and boosting digestion. You can make ginger tea by adding sliced fresh ginger to a cup of hot water. If you don’t have any fresh ginger, use a teaspoon of powdered ginger instead. Drink ginger tea 2 to 3 times a day to soothe your tummy.
Mint can also calm an upset tummy and reduce gas and bloating. It’s most effective when drunk as a tea. Make mint tea by adding fresh mint leaves to hot water and allowing it to steep before straining it.
If you aren’t a fan of mint or ginger, chamomile is a good alternative as it can relax your muscles and it has anti-inflammatory properties. It may also relieve symptoms like bloating, nausea and stomach cramps.
Like ginger and mint tea, chamomile tea is easy to make. Simply add 2 or 3 teaspoons of dried chamomile flowers to a cup of hot water and allow it to steep before straining it. Honey and lemon can also be added for flavour. Drink this 3 to 4 times a day.
How to make a rehydration solution
Because diarrhoea and vomiting make you lose water and essential minerals, it can cause dehydration. Drinking a rehydration solution is an effective way of preventing dehydration. Sachets of rehydration solutions can usually be bought from pharmacies and then added to water.
You can also make your own rehydration solution by adding half a teaspoon of salt and 6 level teaspoons of sugar to 1 litre of water.
Other norovirus remedies
Acupressure for nausea
Acupressure involves using pressure on certain parts of the body to relieve tension or pain. It may also help to relieve nausea in some people, although the evidence surrounding this is inconclusive.
To find the pressure point typically used for nausea, measure 3 finger widths down from the bottom of your palm. Use your thumb to press the soft spot between your 2 tendons. Massage this area for 2 to 3 minutes.
Heating pads for cramps
Warming your tummy (abdomen) with a heating pad can help relax your muscles and relieve feelings of nausea. Hot water bottles and electric blankets are just as effective if you don’t have a heating pad to hand. However, you shouldn’t use these products too regularly or rest them against your abdomen for too long as they can damage your skin.
Myths about treating norovirus
It’s a popular myth that flat carbonated drinks are a good remedy for an upset tummy. However this isn’t the case. Rather than drinking carbonated drinks, drink water or a rehydration solution when you have norovirus.
If you’re looking after a child under 5, give them a rehydration solution that’s suitable for children, or water or milk. Avoid giving them fruit juice or carbonated drinks as these drinks may make any diarrhoea worse.
Have these remedies helped?
These remedies may not cure norovirus, but they should make it easier to manage your symptoms while you recover. You should start to feel better after a couple of days, but if your symptoms continue for longer or start to get worse, contact a doctor.
Read the article when to see a doctor for norovirus to find out more.