How Long Does Norovirus Usually Last?

Medically Reviewed on 6/29/2022
How Long Does Norovirus Usually Last?
Norovirus spreads easily and infects people in several ways.

Symptoms of norovirus infection usually last about two to three days.

  • Kids with norovirus infection should not go to school or childcare until there are no symptoms for at least 24 hours.
  • Moreover, they should avoid swimming pools until they’re well again.
  • Children in diapers should stay out of pools until their diarrhea has stopped for more than a week.

What is the norovirus?

Norovirus is the term used to describe a group of viruses that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea.

Norovirus infection is very common in children (although adults may also be infected) and is very contagious. It can spread easily through infected people and other sources such as contaminated food or surfaces.

Although norovirus has been given the name “the stomach flu,” it has no relation to the seasonal flu (influenza).

Is norovirus contagious?

Yes. Norovirus spreads easily and infects people in several ways. A person who has recently recovered can be still infected and spread it for weeks after they feel better. Anyone can get the infection if they spend time where many people gather, especially at childcare centers and schools and on cruise ships.

The virus is present in the vomit or stools of infected people. It can pass to an object or surface when someone doesn’t wash their hands well after using the toilet or changing a diaper. The virus can attack kids if they put their fingers in their mouths after touching a contaminated toy or surface.

People get infected with the virus from eating or drinking contaminated food or water and even by inhaling the virus if they’re close enough to an infected person who vomits.

What are the signs and symptoms of norovirus?

About a day or two after contact with the virus, it can make a person feel very sick. A person may have symptoms that appear suddenly and include:

Sometimes, norovirus causes no symptoms, but infected people can still spread the virus to others.

A child with the infection and who had a lot of diarrhea and vomiting can get dehydrated and feel lightheaded or dizzy.

How is norovirus infection diagnosed?

Health professionals usually rule out norovirus infection based on symptoms rather than a test. However, if the symptoms are severe, stool samples are collected and tested to confirm the virus.

How is norovirus infection treated?

Most norovirus infections get better on their own. Simple steps to speed up the recovery process may include:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Give lots of clear, noncarbonated fluids to help the child stay hydrated.
  • Give an oral rehydration solution that has the right amount of water, sugar, and salt to replace lost fluids. 
  • Don’t give any medicines to the child unless recommended by their healthcare provider.
  • Antibiotics only work against bacteria, so don’t use them to treat norovirus.
  • Make sure the child washes their hands clean and more often to prevent the spread of the virus. 
  • When the vomiting stops, offer a small amount of food. It may take time for a child to feel like eating a regular diet. Avoiding dairy products is not required unless they make the vomiting or diarrhea worse. 
  • Avoid greasy or fried foods until the child feels better.


Bowel regularity means a bowel movement every day. See Answer
Medically Reviewed on 6/29/2022
Image Source: iStock image