The omicron variant is expanding rapidly and studies suggest that it is the most contagious to date.
But this version of the coronavirus appears to be causing milder symptoms than its predecessors, making it more similar to a common cold or flu.
How can I know then if I have covid or another mild respiratory disease?
Symptoms of omicron
“We think omicron is much more similar to the mild variants that we have seen in vaccinated people, such as delta mainly,” Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London, who heads the so-called Zoe Symptom Study, told the BBC. Covid.
The Zoe Covid study has been gathering data from thousands of people who log their symptoms in an app. Its researchers have analyzed the symptoms linked to the delta variant and the new omicron variant.
So far, the five most common symptoms are:
- Runny nose
- Fatigue (mild or severe)
- Throat pain
Source: Zoe Covid King’s College London Study
Part of this milder symptomatology is mainly due to the large number of people vaccinated or with acquired immunity. It’s too early to know how omicron will impact the unvaccinated and people with a weaker immune system.
The epidemiologist at King’s College points out that, because many of the symptoms that are now reported with the omicron variant are similar to those of the cold, this can lead to people “perhaps not going to recognize the infection as covid” .
That is, in regions where omicron is spreading rapidly, it is very likely that a person with cold symptoms has covid, as is happening in London, one of the cities with the highest incidence of omicron.
If you suspect that you have covid, the most important thing is that you get a test as soon as possible. Even those with mild or asymptomatic symptoms can put others at risk.
Previous variants of the coronavirus had symptoms such as fever, cough, and loss of taste and smell.
But, according to Spector, now most of the people who are reporting new infections do not have those “classic symptoms” of covid.
With what symptoms should I be alert?
The British National Health Service (NHS, for its acronym in English) indicates that we must remain aware of the classic symptoms of covid:
- Sudden continuous cough
- Fever or high temperature
- Loss or change in taste and smell
However, for some, having covid can feel like “a bad cold”, with symptoms such as headache, sore throat and runny nose.
Is fever an unequivocal symptom of coronavirus?
From 37.8C it is considered high temperature. Fever can occur when the body is fighting an infection, not just coronavirus.
It is best to use a thermometer. But if you don’t have one, check to see if it feels hot to touch your chest or back.
Is a common cold is unlikely to cause a fever.
If you have a fever, it is recommended that you take a diagnostic test to rule out that you have coronavirus.
What about the cough?
If you have the flu or a cold, you likely have a cough and other symptoms.
The flu usually comes on suddenly And those who suffer from it often experience muscle aches, chills, headaches, tiredness, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, along with coughing. It feels worse than a bad cold.
Colds tend to develop more gradually and they are less severe, although they make us feel bad.
Along with the cough, there may be sneezing, a sore throat, and a runny nose. Fever, chills, muscle aches and headaches are rare.
A coronavirus cough involves coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing fits or “episodes” in 24 hours.
If you develop a new and ongoing cough, you should get tested for coronavirus.
What does it mean to lose taste or smell?
These are key symptoms of the coronavirus and they mean you should get tested.
You may still have a simple cold. But you should check it, even if you don’t feel bad, to avoid the risk of spreading the virus.
If I sneeze, does it mean I have coronavirus?
Sneezing is not a classic coronavirus symptom, and unless you also have a fever, cough, or loss of smell and appetite, there should be no problem.
Similarly, a sneeze can transmit infectionsSo try using a tissue and washing your hands when you sneeze.
What if I have a runny or stuffy nose?
It is not one of the key symptoms of coronavirus, but various research suggests that people who have tested positive have experienced these symptoms.
The sanitary guidelines of the United States, for example, include all these symptoms as possible in case of coronavirus infection.
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Loss of taste or smell
- Throat pain
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Data in South Africa indicate that some people have reported digestive problems as a possible symptom of omicron.
But in the UK, Tim Spector noted that omicron infection appears to remain similar to previous variants, i.e. a primarily respiratory infection.
What do I do if I feel very bad?
Preliminary data and studies on omicron suggest that this variant is less severe than the previous ones. We owe that in part to the mutations of the virus but above all to the protection of vaccines and natural immunity.
However, the speed at which the omicron is transmitted, the fastest to date, remains a challenge and many, especially patients with certain previous ailments, remain at risk.
People with coronavirus can have a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Some will have none, but they can still be infectious.
Symptoms can appear up to two weeks after exposure to the coronavirus, but usually around day five.
Breathing difficulties they can be a sign of a more serious infection.
* This note was published on December 17. However, as the epidemiological information on omicron has evolved, the note has been updated and supplemented with other useful guides.