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9 Signs of a Delta Infection, Says CDC

The new COVID variant is one to watch for.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The new variant of COVID-19  is different from previous versions. It's "more dangerous than other variants of the virus," says the CDC. "The Delta variant is highly contagious, more than 2x as contagious as previous variants," not to mention, "some data suggest the Delta variant might cause more severe illness than previous variants in unvaccinated people." How do you know you have it?  Read on for 9 symptoms, get vaccinated if you haven't been yet—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


You May Have Bad Cold-Like Symptoms

woman coughing into elbow while lying down on sofa in the living room.

The CDC lists congestion or runny nose and sore throat as symptoms of COVID-19. Some studies, as well as anecdotal evidence, indicate that these nose-and-throat symptoms are more prevalent with Delta than with other strains. Professor Tim Spector, who runs the Zoe Covid Symptom study, has said that Delta can feel "more like a bad cold" for younger people. That's why it's essential to stay on top of any symptoms and get tested.


You May Have Fever or Chills

woman covered with plaid checking her body temperature while sitting in bed at her apartment

Temperature dysregulation is very common with COVID but you can still have COVID without a fever. Most doctors don't worry until your temperature is above 100.4 degrees—that's when it's considered significant. By the way, a fever isn't a bad thing. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said it's a sign your immune response is working. But it is a worrying sign if you have one during a pandemic.

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You May Have a Cough

Woman coughing hardly at home

A COVID cough "is usually a dry (unproductive) cough, unless you have an underlying lung condition that normally makes you cough up phlegm or mucus," says the Zoe Symptom Study. "However, if you have COVID-19 and start coughing up yellow or green phlegm ('gunk') then this may be a sign of an additional bacterial infection in the lungs that needs treatment."

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You May Have Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing

Woman suffering an anxiety attack alone in the night

If you have a hard time breathing, call a medical professional and the CDC says "look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone."


You May Have Fatigue

Man sitting on bed holding his head.

Fatigue—as if you have, well, a virus—is a common symptom if you get COVID. It can also last longer than a year, according to one big new study in the Lancet. More than half of those studied had at least one symptom that did not go away after a COVID infection, at least after a year of study. An estimated 30% of people who get COVID may have this problem. The authors found that these "long haulers" suffer "fatigue or muscle weakness, problems with mobility, pain or discomfort, and anxiety or depression" among other debilitating problems.

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You May Have Muscle or Body Aches

Young woman suffering from back pain while sitting on sofa at home

Dr. Fauci has warned that "long haulers" can develop "myalgia"—or body aches—and they can be caused by an initial infection. These might feel like a heart attack or just a pain in the neck, but are unusual in their appearance, in that you may not know how they happened. If it feels really weird, suspect COVID.


You May Have a Headache

young woman is ill stay in bed have a headache

When COVID first hit these shores, the symptoms were said to be a dry cough or shortness of breath. Little did the experts know at the time, there were many more—including crushing headaches, described by one patient as "an alien feeling inside of my body and a vise grip on my head but nothing that sounded like the typical description of COVID." Others have called it a "jackhammer."

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You May Have a New Loss of Taste or Smell

woman trying to sense smell of half fresh orange, has symptoms of Covid-19

The original keystone symptoms of a COVID infection, a loss of taste or smell are anecdotally less common than they were before, but can still happen and are a telltale sign of COVID.


You Have Have Gastrointestinal Issues

Middle aged woman suffering from abdominal pain while sitting on bed at home

Nausea or vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms the CDC says to watch for. Originally thought of as a "respiratory illness," COVID has proven to disrupt all systems, including gastrointestinal. The CDC notes that "this list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Nurse with face mask sitting at home with senior woman and injecting covid 19 vaccine.

"From the standpoint of illness, hospitalization, suffering, and death, the unvaccinated are much more vulnerable," Fauci says. "When you look at the country as a whole in getting us back to normal, the unvaccinated — by not being vaccinated — are allowing the propagation and the spread of the outbreak, which ultimately impacts everyone." Get tested if you feel you have any of the symptoms mentioned here. And says the CDC: "Get vaccinated as soon as you can. If you're in an area of substantial or high transmission, wear a mask indoors in public, even if you're fully vaccinated," says the CDC. 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.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek