Emetophobia sufferers everywhere dread the winter months approaching because of the prevalence of Norwalk and related viruses. The proper name for these viruses which cause vomiting and diarrhea for 24 hours is norovirus or noroviruses. It's short for "Norwalk-like viruses." Here are some other names you may hear:
- winter vomiting virus
- viral gastroenteritis
- gastro-intestinal virus
- stomach flu
People who have a fear of vomiting or fear seeing others vomit are often much more anxious at this time of year, but they need not be. First of all, noroviruses are around all year thanks to world travel. It's summer in Australia when it's winter in the USA and Europe, and people fly from place to place all the time. So enjoy your autumn, and your winter!
Noroviruses are very contagious, but if you practice good hygiene it's almost impossible to contract one. This means washing your hands after using the bathroom, and before eating anything. And never put your fingers in your mouth unless you've just washed your hands. Don't use anti-bacterial soap or hand cleaners - many of them are ineffective on norovirus anyway. The best thing is plain soap and water for 20 seconds and rinse well.
I caught a norovirus this past summer. It was the first time I had been sick for about 35 or 40 years. It wasn't nice, but I wasn't anxious and it was over in a day. Not bad - one day in 40 years to feel like crap. I know exactly how I caught it. We went on a road trip, touched everything in nasty gas stations, didn't wash hands, and ate Twizzler candy with our hands. That'll do it!
Despite the fear of norovirus, do not expend a lot of energy in trying to avoid it. Just be sensible with your hygiene and stop giving it so much of your thoughts and energy. Use the energy to research and work on your fear, anxiety or panic. There is lots of help out there for that. Always remember: your problem is not norovirus, vomiting, or avoiding the two. Your problem is anxiety. That's what you need to work on "avoiding" so to speak!
Have a great autumn everyone!