Sunday, January 8, 2017

Stomach Virus Vs. Us

When I was a kid and the stomach virus struck hard and heavy, I would lie down on my bed in agony, towels spread out on my pillow and the floor as targets. I don't know why we didn't have a puke bucket. It was a revelation to me, as a parent, to use a bucket or old pot to catch any and all emissions. Of course, it's not fool proof. Sleepy, sick children don't always have the best aim, but it certainly helps.

The stomach virus is non-discriminatory. It can hit anyone, no matter age, sex, race, or religion. It's the great equalizer on the playground and the greatest excuse ever invented to duck out of social functions. When you drop those two words "stomach virus", you and your
family are exempt from any and all appearances for the time being.

Still, most of us would rather be out there in the world participating in life, than be curled up in the fetal position at home puking our brains out, as my kids like to say. When rumors of stomach virus start circulating around the community, some take measures right away to prevent it from darkening their doorstep. One family I know kept their kids home from school the day before Christmas vacation started and they weren't even sick. That's brilliant, I say. We all know they aren't doing anything but passing germs in class that day anyway.

That's not an option for everyone, like those of us that have full-time jobs away from home. Sick days have to be saved for actual sick days. So, what's a family to do?

What is the Stomach Virus?

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) says the stomach virus is caused by the norovirus, which is actually a group of viruses that cause vomiting and diarrhea. It typically runs its course in 1-3 days. They estimate the average person will get the stomach virus about 5 times in their life. Of course, that's just an estimate. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I've been down and out with my head in a puke bucket more than 5 times in my life.

How do we Get the Stomach Virus?

Unfortunately for anyone that's in contact with others (all of us), the stomach virus spreads quickly. It can tear its way through a classroom full of children before a small-town rumor mill has a chance to spread the word. We're all at risk. The CDC states this is how we get it:

  • We consume food or drink contaminated with norovirus.
  • We touch norovirus contaminated objects, then put our fingers in our mouth.
  • We have direct contact with someone who is suffering from norovirus.
How can we Prevent the Stomach Virus?

This is a tricky topic, because, of course, there are no guarantees. You can do your best to clean, scrub, and avoid, and still end up with a churning stomach. Your best bet is to pay attention to cleanliness once someone in your house has brought the stomach virus in the door. WebMD recommends you do the following to prevent stomach virus:

  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Use a bleach-based household cleaner to clean and sanitize any contaminated surfaces.
  • Immediately wash soiled linens and clothing in hot, soapy water.
I can't stress enough how thorough you have to be when you clean and sanitize contaminated surfaces. Don't just get the surfaces that were affected by bodily fluids, but sanitize doorknobs, sink handles, the toilet lever, basically, anything you can think of that either the sick person or the person cleaning touched. Likewise, wash your hands more than you've ever washed them before. I washed my hands 15 times the night I cleaned up my son's vomit. That is not an exaggeration.

Some of us (me) like to do a little more than clean to help prevent a stomach virus from taking hold. Dr. Google lead me to lots of blogs that recommend grape juice, apple cider vinegar, and probiotics. Here's a blog post about stomach virus prevention that nicely sums up the reasoning behind the home remedies. Of course, I check everything out on Snopes before I believe it as fact and Snopes found the grape juice theory unproven. My theory is that it can't hurt, so I drank a glass of grape juice every day for a week or two.

Something I did worked because I didn't come down with it. It's been two weeks now and I think it's safe to say I'm free and clear. Until next time, that is.


  1. Ugh I got it on new year's eve and we are almost done with the sweep through the family.

    1. Hope you are all feeling better! We need to get together, when we're all healthy!

  2. Great post, just feeling somewhat queasy after reading it. I'm going to try the grape juice suggestion. So glad to hear you fact check with Snopes! Fact checking is good!

    1. I'm all about the fact checking these days! Wish everyone was!

  3. Unfortunately I cant use bleach based products as they give me a really bad headaches. Could you suggest something esle

    1. I like vinegar, too. I'm not sure it has the same disinfectant qualities as bleach, though.