Statistics from laboratories and searches on 1177 show that the spread of winter sickness has now gained momentum in Sweden. Winter sickness is our most common stomach ailment and affects up to half a million Swedes every season.
Winter sickness is caused by the highly contagious Calicivirus. The most common symptoms are violent vomiting and diarrhea, but fever, headache and nausea are also common symptoms.
Released restrictions increase the spread of infection
The previous measures to reduce the spread of covid-19 meant that the spread of other viruses decreased during the last season.
– During the covid restrictions, more people have stayed at home and met fewer people, which has led to a reduced spread of several viral diseases, including the winter sickness. This year we see that several viruses, including seasonal flu, RS and winter vomiting sickness, are on the rise at the same time, says Joacim Stalfors, doctor and medical director at Doktor24.
Five claims about winter sickness:
- Hand sanitizer protects against winter sickness. Incorrect. Hand sanitizer can be a good supplement, but washing your hands with soap and water provides better protection.
- Swallowing whole white peppercorns protects against winter sickness. Incorrect. There is no scientific evidence that white pepper would protect.
- If you’ve been hit once, you’re immune. Incorrect. You can get short-term protection after one infection, but because there are many different variants of the winter sickness virus, you can be affected multiple times in the same season.
- Some people are automatically immune. Correct. About 20 percent of all Swedes have genetic protection against winter sickness.
- You can only get winter sickness in the winter. Incorrect. The risk of being affected is higher in the winter because we spend more time indoors, but you can get infected in the summer too – although it is not as common.
Here’s how you can reduce the spread of winter sickness:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Hand sanitizer alone is not enough. Dry your hands on a separate towel or paper towel.
- Avoid cooking while you have vomiting or diarrhea.
- Stay home from school or work for 48 hours after you last vomited or had diarrhea.
- Clean properly – the virus can survive for up to two weeks in leftovers, even though they have dried.
– And if you are affected, it is important that you get fluids in the form of water or a special fluid replacement. Try easy-to-digest food such as soup, crackers and yogurt, if you can keep this, it’s good to start eating carefully, continues Joacim Stalfors, doctor and medical director at Doktor24.
Then you should seek care
Most people who get winter sickness do not need to seek treatment, but recover after a few days. Often it is enough to rest and drink properly and most people soon feel better. However, if you have had diarrhea for more than a week and are taking medication for heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, or another serious illness, you should seek care.
Elderly people, who can become severely dehydrated, should seek care. Even smaller children who cannot retain any fluids and who become lethargic, tired and difficult to communicate with should seek care. In other cases, it is recommended not to visit a physical care unit as you risk infecting others. A good tip is to call the reception before you visit it. Winter sickness is highly contagious and it is good if the reception can prepare a visit in a non-contagious way.