People who have been infected with COVID-19 share some very specific symptoms, although there is strong evidence these symptoms can be more severe for those who are not vaccinated. “There’s probably a huge amount of overlap between Omicron and the prior variants, because they are essentially doing the same thing,” says Dr. Otto O. Yang, an infectious disease physician at the University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine. “If there are differences, they’re probably fairly subtle.” Here are five COVID-19 symptoms to be aware of, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
“It’s important to know and recognize all of the symptoms of Omicron. Symptoms like sore throat, runny nose, headache, and fatigue could be COVID,” says Dr. Claire Steves from King’s College London. “If you are experiencing any symptoms, get tested and isolate until you have your test result. This will help stop the spread. If you live in an area experiencing high rates of infection, consider staying home and reducing social contact. Omicron is a highly transmissible variant, so being a bit more cautious when it comes to socializing is a good idea.”
Fatigue is a common symptom of both normal and long COVID. “This is what destroys people’s lives,” says David Putrino, director of rehabilitation innovation at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. “If they put in one day of work they need two days to recover. If they go to a party they can’t go to work the next day.”
A runny nose is one of the more common symptoms of COVID-19, experts say. “A runny nose and headache are symptoms of many infections, but may also be the first symptoms – and only symptoms – of Covid,” says Professor Irene Petersen, professor of epidemiology and health informatics at University College London. “Therefore, if you have these symptoms, I’d encourage you to use lateral flow tests for a couple of days.”
The number of people who are experiencing some form of long COVID is rising by the day, experts say. “We do know for absolutely certain that there is a post-COVID syndrome,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci. “Anywhere from 25% to 35%—or more—have lingering symptoms well beyond what you would expect from any post viral syndrome like influenza and others. It’s fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle aches, dysautonomia, sleep disturbances and what people refer to as brain fog.”
“Thanks to millions of daily health reports from our dedicated ZOE COVID Study app contributors, we’ve shown from the earliest days of the pandemic that gastrointestinal (GI) problems — such as diarrhea, stomach pains, feeling sick and losing your appetite or skipping meals — can all be symptoms of COVID-19,” says Professor Timothy Spector.
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.