Can a norovirus infection only last a few hours?
February 15, 2015 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Can a norovirus infection last only a few hours? (some mild grossness inside)

I got sick yesterday, and at first I was convinced I had norovirus--again. I've had it two times in the past two years(!), so I'm no stranger to what it feels like. I was doing fine, even went jogging in the morning. At about 3 in the afternoon I developed a headache but didn't take any medicine for it. Shortly thereafter I was feeling the double trouble of norovirus: nausea and diarrhea. I felt them both coming on, anyway.

So I went to the toilet and did a little #2 business, not so much though. Tried to puke but just did dry heaves. Left the bathroom to go lay down in bed. I was shaking and really cold. I checked my temperature but no fever at all--also normal for norovirus. I half-slept for about an hour, went to the toilet again but more dry-heaves. I definitely ate a full lunch but nothing was coming up.

So this cycle repeated for the next three or four hours, a sort of miserable and delirious half-sleeping, with trips to the toilet. But the diarrhea stopped and I never did puke anything up. Then I woke around 8pm, astounded to find that I was actually hungry. The nausea was gone, as was the bowel discomfort. So I waited a bit longer and went to the kitchen and slowly, gradually ate some bread and crackers. I felt better and better, and now, noon the next day, I'm back at work and feeling fine, though my stomach is a bit queasy and my bowel movements are pretty loose.

So. My question is what was that? Could that have been norovirus? The other two times I've caught it, it was at least 24 hours of hell, basically going to the toilet to puke and shit every hour or two, though tapering at the end. This was about 5 hours, start to finish. Can noro be that weak? One big difference is that I am a lot more healthy this year compared with the other years. Like I said, I've been running regularly and eating a lot better as well. Could my body simply be stronger and kick out the norovirus sooner? Or are there strains of noro that only last that long? Or was it run of the mill food poisoning?
posted by zardoz to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you just ate something that was bad/didn't agree with you. There's no virus that I've ever heard of that runs its course in five hours.
posted by sonika at 8:13 PM on February 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, sounds like food poisoning.
posted by Miko at 8:14 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

IANAD, but nthing something food-borne.
posted by Sphinx at 8:51 PM on February 15, 2015

Best answer: I think it's basically impossible to tell without testing a stool sample. There's a lot of variation in how even the same strain of norovirus can affect people and the response can certainly be mild; sometimes people are even totally asymptomatic. If there's norovirus going around where you are, and Jan-Mar is exactly the right season for it, I might suspect that, especially since the prior on norovirus is pretty high: it's estimated to be behind about half of food-related gastroenteritis cases, at least in the USA (don't know about Japan). But it could also be any number of short-duration gastro pathogens and/or toxins (e.g. staph, B. cereus, ...).

It's also sort of academic because there's not much difference in how you'd treat any of these, though I guess the cleaning-up you would do to halt transmission might be somewhat more paranoid for norovirus since it's so contagious (i.e., use 1:10 bleach solution where possible).
posted by en forme de poire at 8:51 PM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Sounds like my experience with norovirus, but yeah, there's no way to tell. Just in case, disinfect stuff and be really careful about washing your hand etc. to protect co-workers and friends: if it was a norovirus you could be contagious for up to two weeks.
posted by Specklet at 9:02 PM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Every experience I ever had with Norovirus lasted for a full day plus some change and left me feeling less than 100% for days after that.

Some flavor of food poisoning? Maybe.

What it really sounds like to me is my experience when my body decided that, at age 40, I would no longer be digesting eggs. You might want to take a mental inventory of everything you had to eat yesterday morning and make sure you don't have the same experience next time.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:44 PM on February 15, 2015

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