More than 100,000 people a week could be catching the vomiting bug norovirus, doctors say.
Experts advise drinking plenty of fluids and paracetamol.
The virus causes sudden onset of nausea, projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. It can also cause fever, headaches and aching limbs.
Reported cases of the illness from early December are at a five-year-high, but the real figure is likely to be much greater as most sufferers do not seek medical attention
You have been sending us your experiences of the illness. Read a selection of your comments:
I am just recovering from this awful bug! I first got it very suddenly at bedtime on 30th December and was pretty much bed ridden for 3 days. It's not to be taken lightly and where possible, contact with others should be avoided.
I'm still feeling the after effects now, having lost over half a stone in weight and am still struggling to eat as my stomach has shrunk and everything I eat makes me very queasy. I returned to work today but as far as no spreading the virus, I've managed to pass it to my partner and mother! Oops! Avoid at all costs.
Joanne , Woking
I was unfortunate enough to catch this bug just before Christmas. I work with adults who have learning disabilities and I am very mindful of 'braving' work when I am ill but with this bug attempting to go into work wasn't even an option! It hits you with such velocity that you just don't feel capable of leaving the house let alone managing the commute and actually working. To put it politely you need to ensure you are constantly within close range of a toilet!
Very few people follow the advice of staying away from work due to unsympathetic and often nagging bosses.
Darren Simpson, GP, Bradford
Amy, Falmouth, Cornwall
I have been hit with this bug and have to admit to going to work this morning but coming home after a colleague would not sit in the same office as me!! She was right...
Mike Stone, Reading
I had to drag myself to work today because of unsympathetic management in my store which says I must have a good reason to be off, making me feel guilty for staying home, only to find that most of my colleagues were off with the virus! I know who I caught it off, which is even more annoying. So not only have a risked infecting the last remaining healthy people, but all the customers too!! I'm taking my days off as sick but I know they'll just nag me! I know loads of people who have had the virus, roughly 10.
Cameron Wilson, Bournemouth
I was ill with the bug, yet my boss told me to get to work or get my P45 in the post!
Justin Crook, Newport
The ward I work on was shut during September because of Norovirus the earliest I can remember us getting the virus. Luckily not many members of staff contracted it because of good hygiene however because we had it so early I expect we could expect another outbreak before the winter is out. It always amazes me how many people come and visit people in hospital when they are ill, I have had relatives vomit in the corridor of my ward and then get upset because I have asked them to leave immediately because of the risk to my ill patients. They do not understand this bug can seriously hamper the recovery of already ill patients. Even if you only feel slightly unwell then do not visit people in hospital.
Claire Conely, Bexhill-on-sea
Over half of our office was struck with the illness before Christmas (8 out of 12). Incredible!
Julian Philpott, Ascot
I'm a GP in Bradford and can confirm that we have had a large number of cases coming in recent weeks. Very few people follow the advice of staying away from work however due to unsympathetic and often nagging bosses.
I too caught it but couldn't stay off for 48hrs as we were desperately short of doctors over the New Year period.
Its the worst time of year to catch it as a lot of places are understaffed due to leave and bank holidays so there is increased pressure to attend work if you can (and ignore the 48hr quarantine)
Darren Simpson, Bradford
I wish people would follow the advice to stay at home for 48 hours after recovery. A bug, probably this one has been raging around. At my children's school I have seen kids suddenly vomit all over the carpet, been taken home, then they are back at school the next day to infect someone else. My sons Christmas day was ruined by it, as he caught it from his sister, he passed it on to me (I am 31 weeks pregnant) and good fun was had by all! So far only husband has escaped. Employers are to blame as well as they expect you back at work ASAP, you can get the sack at my employers if you go over a certain (low) limit of absence. So again it is spread around!
S. Jones, Bedlington, Northumberland
As a preschool teacher we are very aware of the need for keeping sickness outbreaks under control and we have a strict policy that no child will be admitted until they have been symptom free of sickness and diarrhoea for 48 hours. You would be amazed at the number of parents that quite happily will bring their children along when they have been up all night being sick and then get narky when you tell them that they have to take their child home again. These things spread round like crazy, the other children go down with it and staff get it and take it home to their families and it costs time off work and school for all of us!
You don't want to catch this bug if you can help it!
For our 40th birthday we booked a cruise to the Hawaiian islands in January 2006. On the last few days back at sea I caught the norovirus on the cruise liner. I was quarantined to my room for 48 hours. All I can say I was glad that my son (3years old then) never caught it. As the news article says it's harder for the young and old.
Just ensure that you are near a bathroom. Drink plenty of water.
Kaush Mistry, Rugby
I live in Stockholm now and this bug is very well known to the Swedes over the winter period, in Swedish its called Vinterkräkssjukan. Its not nice! I had it last year and was dizzy, sick and sat on the loo too many times! Not to much you can do other than let it pass through your body... but one thing to do is stay at home as its spreads very quick and it can also can be spread through the air so I'm led to believe. Swedes are very adamant that you don't come to work for a few days as it is so popular and nobody wants it!
Tony, London & Stockholm
And there was me blaming that noodle shop...
Richard C., Somerset
Fab. I came in to work like a trooper (after having left early on Tuesday feeling dreadful) and have now found out I could have stayed home till the weekend.
I like this one. It's indicative of the state of the nation. If you're ill....stay away from the Doctors... ironic and sadly funny.
Robin Clark, Sheffield
I had this little bug over the last week and it ruined my New Year (and birthday) plans. A number of members of my family have also had it and there is nothing really you can do to stop it. I believe the dose I caught this year was a lot stronger than normal, it lasted about 5 days which is a bit longer than I would have expected and the stomach pains were unbearable at times. Its a very unpleasant little virus, if you haven't had it yet, and someone you know has it, beware!
N Jackson, Middlesbrough
I was having a lovely time at the German market in Birmingham when I suddenly felt a little unwell. I managed to say 'I don't feel very...' when I vomited violently and had no choice but to do it where I stood. (Normally I can hold an upset stomach down for hours until I get somewhere private). To add insult to injury, the crowds of people there assumed I was drunk and were loudly tut tutting and saying 'Oh how disgusting!' So if anybody who was there is reading this, I WAS ILL!
I didn't go to the doctor. 8 vomits later, a nightmare cab ride home, 2 days in bed and I was fine.
Helen Brunton, Solihull
I suffered from this before the Christmas break and lost 5 1/2 lb over night, great for a boost to the pre-Christmas diet but would wish it on anyone!
Stuart Jones, Royal Tunbridge Wells