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A Complete Guide to Rotavirus Vs. Norovirus Vs. Stomach Flu

June 30, 2022

A Complete Guide to Rotavirus Vs. Norovirus Vs. Stomach Flu

You might be more susceptible to getting sick if you have a busy schedule and are balancing work and family life. Without adequate nutrition, rest, and exercise, your immune system is not likely as strong as it needs to be to fight off the myriad of viruses that crop up throughout the year. 

Some of the more common viruses, the rotavirus and norovirus, are often confused with each other since they have similar symptoms. Even more commonly, the rotavirus and norovirus are confused with the stomach flu, though all three are distinctly different. Keep reading for a comprehensive overview of the rotavirus, norovirus, stomach flu, and their differences.

Rotavirus: What Is It?

The rotavirus is a virus that most often impacts infants and children, making it a harmful and potentially significant virus if not treated. Though the rotavirus is most commonly seen in infants and young children, it can easily spread to family members and people with whom children have had close contact. 


The rotavirus has relatively easy-to-spot symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and the presence of a fever. This combination can lead to severe dehydration in younger children and infants, which can pose significant health risks. 


Most viruses are transmitted through particles, wherein viral particles are transferred from one person to another. In the case of the rotavirus, the virus is shed in the passed stool (poop), and people can get infected if those rotavirus particles enter their mouth. 

Additionally, coming into contact with food and objects that have been infected increases the chance of the rotavirus particles getting into your mouth. 

What Is the Norovirus?

Like the rotavirus, norovirus is a contagious virus that can spread quickly if proper sanitizing practices are not consistently implemented. However, there are some distinguishing factors between the rotavirus and norovirus. 


The norovirus has similar symptoms to the rotavirus, including diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and nausea, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same virus. The norovirus spreads easily and is most often found in people of all ages, not just infants and children. 


The norovirus is transmitted through consuming contaminated food or water, coming into direct contact with an infected person, touching contaminated surfaces and transferring norovirus particles into your mouth. Unlike the rotavirus, which travels through stool particles, norovirus is more contagious since it can be transferred via direct contact with an infected person. 

What Is the Stomach Flu?

While the stomach flu is often confused with the norovirus and the rotavirus, it's entirely different. The stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, is an infection that occurs in your intestines. 

Because stomach flu symptoms are similar to the rotavirus and norovirus, it's commonly confused with either of these two viruses. Still, it is important to note the different ways that each transmits and necessitates treatment. It is important to note that viral gastroenteritis is an infection, not influenza. 


Similar to the rotavirus and norovirus, the stomach flu is marked by symptoms that include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, fever, and body aches. The symptoms May last up to 2 weeks but most often only present for a few days.

It is also important to note that the symptom of diarrhea in the stomach flu can generate confusion about whether a viral or bacterial infection causes it. Contact your medical team if you are concerned about your symptoms being connected to a bacterial infection.


Like the rotavirus and norovirus, the stomach flu is highly contagious and can be spread through person-to-person contact or ingested contaminated food or water. Be sure to ensure that you are confusing clean, filtered drinking water and take the necessary safety precautions if you are around someone experiencing symptoms of infection. Again, older children and folks are more susceptible to catching the stomach flu and experiencing more significant effects that can be potentially critical. 

Are Rotavirus and Norovirus the Stomach Flu?

While they have similar symptoms, the stomach flu is not the same as the rotavirus or norovirus. It is important to note that both the rotavirus and norovirus can cause the stomach flu, but that neither of these three sicknesses is the same issue. 

If you have the stomach flu, you likely got it from having either the rotavirus or norovirus. Both highly contagious viruses, the rotavirus and norovirus, impact children and adults and are spread through contaminated food or between people in close contact with each other. 

Virus and Stomach Flu Prevention

So how do you prevent yourself from catching and spreading these contagious viruses? Though it has become more prevalent in the past few years, the reminder to wash your hands to prevent the spread of viral and bacterial infections is critical. 

Be sure you are spending enough time cleaning your hands with soap and water to limit the potential for spreading bacteria from one person to another. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer will also help prevent the spread of infection if you cannot wash your hands. 

Maintaining a well-rounded lifestyle is key to keeping your body as strong and healthy as possible. Develop and maintain a diet based on whole fruits and vegetables, hydration, regular exercise, and adequate sleep. Ensure that you get the suggested amount of vitamins and minerals in your diet. This will help you build an immune system strong enough to fight off infection. 

How Long Am I Contagious For?

The contagious period or the amount of time a person infected can transmit that illness to someone else, differs slightly across the rotavirus and norovirus. The rotavirus is a bit trickier in symptoms and contagiousness because you can be contagious with the rotavirus if you are exhibiting symptoms up to two weeks after you've recovered from being sick. 

However, if infected with the norovirus, you are contagious at the onset of your symptoms. Symptoms are likely to appear shortly after exposure to contaminated substances or a person infected with the virus.

Is There a Treatment?

While there aren’t any official treatments for the rotavirus and norovirus or the stomach flu, you can take several actions to prevent the spread of these illnesses and take care of yourself as you recover. 

One of the most important things you can do while recovering from either the Norovirus, rotavirus or stomach flu is To prioritize fluids and ensure that you are as hydrating as possible so that your recovery can be swift. 

This Flu Relief treatment by The I.V. Doc is an effective and safe way to hydrate your body if you are sick and receive high-quality care from a team of medical professionals in the comfort of your home.

Why Hydration Is So Important When You Are Sick

When you have an illness like the stomach flu, your body will be working hard to move the virus through its body as quickly as possible. At the same time, you are likely to be experiencing symptoms that can be difficult to manage. 

Diarrhea and vomiting, two more common – and challenging – symptoms of the rotavirus, norovirus, and stomach flu, pose issues for recovery because they cause your body to become dehydrated. With the significant fluid loss, your body is more likely to become dehydrated. This can be very dangerous in children and older adults, though severe dehydration can pose serious issues to anyone.

If you are sick, prioritize hydration as best as you can. Keeping down fluids may be challenging, so an I.V. infusion filled with liquids, electrolytes, and medication might offer a refreshing alternative to aid your recovery. 

The Bottom Line

If you have a busy lifestyle filled with balancing professional and family life, then getting sick is inconvenient and may make managing your life even more difficult. Managing symptoms and quick recovery are paramount.

Another way to support an effective recovery is through in-home IV infusions.

The I.V. Doc offers an opportunity for you to address symptoms from the flu and other viruses in an entirely new way. 

So what are you waiting for? Say goodbye to a passive role in recovering from sickness and hello to a more active and effective way to manage symptoms and recover. 



Norovirus Fact Sheet - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Stomach flu: How long have I been contagious? | Mayo Clinic

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