The winter malaise is caused by calicivirus and spreads very easily. If you get sick, it is often enough to rest and drink properly. You usually get better within one to three days. A good way to prevent infection is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Winter sickness is the most common type of stomach disease in some parts of Europe. But you can also get stomach upset for other reasons. 

Symptoms of winter sickness

The symptoms of winter malaise often come quickly. You usually get several of the following symptoms:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • stomach ache
  • fever
  • headache
  • body pain.

For children who get stomach upset, vomiting is usually the most common symptom. Adults get diarrhea more often.

When and where should I seek care?

The vast majority of people with stomach ailments do not need to seek care because the problems usually go away after a few days.

  • You feel very tired and weak.
  • You have had diarrhea for more than a week.
  • You vomit for more than a day without slowing down.
  • You are stomach upset and are taking medicines for heart failure, diabetes, or any other serious illness.
  • You are dry in the mouth, thirsty, pee a little and have dark urine. There may be signs that you have a fluid deficiency.

In the text Stomach sickness in children, you can read about children who have stomach sickness, and when to seek care.

If it’s in a hurry

If you have one or more of the following symptoms of winter sickness, contact a health care center or an on-call clinic immediately.

  • You have bloody diarrhea.
  • You have a high fever and chills.
  • You have severe stomach pains that do not go over even though you have vomited or have had diarrhea.

If it is closed at the health center or on-call reception, seek care at an emergency room.

Call reception before going there

Winter sickness is very contagious. Therefore, always call the reception before you go there. Then the reception can prepare your visit and make sure you do not infect others.

What can I do for myself?

Most people who get winter-sickness do not need to seek care but become healthy after a few days. But there are some things that are important to consider.

Drink a little and often

You need to drink more fluid than usual when you have winter malaise. This is especially true if you have a fever or if it is hot weather.

Not drinking enough in case of stomach illness can lead to fluid deficiency and dehydration. Older people and children are extra sensitive. Here you can read more about fluid deficiency and dehydration in children.

Here are some tips to reduce the risk of fluid deficiency:

  • Drink a little at a time. Use a tablespoon if you have difficulty getting the liquid.
  • Drink fluid if you are vomiting a lot or have severe diarrhea. You can buy a liquid replacement at a pharmacy, or you can mix it yourself.
  • Avoid drinking very sweet drinks and light drinks. They can cause more diarrhea.

Drink extra as long as you have diarrhea.

In the article Stomach sickness in young children, you can read more about what to think about if a child has winter sickness, and how you can help the child.

Eat food when you feel better

Try eating regular food as soon as you feel better and can start eating again. Start with small portions.

Sometimes it may feel good to start with lighter foods, such as one of the following:

  • soups such as broth soup, carrot soup, rosehip soup or blueberry soup
  • White bread
  • cooked fish
  • rice.

Avoid high fiber foods and coffee, it can give you more diarrhea again.

How does winter malaise get infected?

Winter sickness is very contagious. It can be spread in different ways:

  • Through contact with infected persons.
  • Through food and drink handled by a person who is ill. 
  • By drinking water or food rinsed in contaminated water and then not boiled, for example, frozen berries and vegetables. The National Food Agency recommends that frozen imported raspberries should be cooked before being eaten. The virus that causes winter malaise is destroyed at temperatures above 70 degrees, but not during freezing.

It usually takes between 12 and 48 hours from being infected until you get sick. That time is also called the incubation period.

You can get short-term protection against winter sickness when you have been ill. But you can get sick several times.

Some people never seem to get winter-sick even if exposed to the virus. This is probably due to an innate resilience.

Most people get sick during the winter

Winter sickness is most relevant between November and April. Most people get sick between January and March. That is why it is called winter sickness. But you can get winter-sickness all year long.

Avoid getting infected

Here’s what you can do to reduce the risk of getting infected:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially before eating and after going to the toilet. It is not enough to use hand spirit. Handwash does not affect the virus that causes winter malaise.
  • Use liquid soap and wipe your hands with your own towel. Use paper towels in places where many gathers, for example, in schools, preschools, workplaces, and public environments.
  • Avoid visiting people who have winter sickness.

Avoid infecting others

You can reduce the risk of infecting others if you become ill yourself. For example, you can do the following:

  • Make sure you are completely healthy before returning to work, school, or other activities. Stay at home for at least a day after you last vomited or had diarrhea. For children in preschool at least two days.
  • Wash your hands with liquid soap before every meal and after every toilet visit. 
  • Use your own towel or paper towels.
  • Avoid cooking as long as you have vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Avoid being in places where you can infect others.

How long should children stay at home?

Children who go to preschool or family daycare can come back when they eat as usual and it has been at least two days without vomiting or having diarrhea.

Children who go to school should stay at home for at least a day after they become healthy.

How long the child should stay at home depends on the child’s age and maturity. The risk of infection decreases if the child can take care of his or her own hygiene, for example going to the toilet himself and washing his hands afterward. That is why the recommendations differ.

People in the same household who are healthy do not have to stay home for preventative purposes. But it is important to wash your hands carefully and to go home immediately if you get symptoms.

In the case of large and prolonged gastrointestinal outbreaks with many sick children at a preschool or a family daycare center, the spread of infection may be limited by allowing healthy siblings who attend the same preschool or family daycare home.

Here’s how to wash your hands

Try to make it a habit to wash your hands when you get home. Washing your hands is effective in removing both viruses and bacteria. Also, wash your hands in connection with the following activities:

  • After you have been to the toilet.
  • After you help someone in the toilet.
  • Before you start cooking.
  • After you handle raw meat.
  • After you have been in contact with animals and animals, such as on a farm or a zoo.

What is the reason for winter malaise?

Winter intestinal disease is due to calicivirus. There are two types of calicivirus, norovirus, and sapovirus. Norovirus is more common. You get the same symptoms, regardless of the virus that caused winter sickness.

Influence and participate in your care

As a patient, you have under the Patient Act chance to affect your health.

You can seek care at any medical center or open specialist clinic you want throughout the country. Sometimes a referral to the open specialized care is required.

You should understand the information.

In order for you to be involved in your care and treatment, it is crucial that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare personnel. Ask questions if you don’t understand.

Children should also be involved in their care. The older the child, the more important it is.

You have the opportunity to get help from an interpreter. You also have the opportunity to get help from an interpreter if you have a hearing loss.

Muhammad Nadeem

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