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If You Feel This, You May Have COVID Now

The five most common symptoms of COVID-19 seem to be changing, researchers say.

Winter, and the cold weather, meant a huge surge of COVID cases last year. This year, despite the vaccines, it's happening again. Hospitalizations are also going up, as vaccine immunity wanes and more people go indoors. But certain symptoms are also more likely if you come down with COVID-19 now, according to the COVID Symptom Study. Researchers have been tracking symptoms reported with new COVID cases via an app, and these are the five they say are most common as of this summer. "There are a few reasons why symptoms may be changing, including the fact that those who have been vaccinated experience less severe symptoms, as well as more cases being reported by younger people, who we have found experience different, less severe symptoms as well," say the researchers. Read on to find out what they are—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.



Young woman sitting on a couch, holding her head, having a strong headache. Close up Portrait of young woman with headache.

The researchers are tracking COVID cases that occur in people who are unvaccinated, along with people who've been fully vaccinated and those who've had one vaccine dose. "As we have found, even people who have had one or two doses of the vaccination can still be susceptible to contracting COVID, and the symptoms and severity differ depending on how many vaccinations you've had, if any," they wrote. But not headache, which was the #1 symptom reported among all three groups. 


Runny Nose

Ill young blond woman having fever and blowing her nose while having a blanket on her shoulders and sitting on the couch with her eyes closed and table with pills in front of her

A runny nose was the #2 most reported symptom by fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated people, and the #3 most common symptom in the unvaccinated. Interestingly, earlier in the pandemic, a runny nose was thought to be unrelated to coronavirus infection. 

At the same time, the researchers say that an early telltale sign of COVID—loss of smell—seems to have become less common as the virus has evolved. It ranked #9 among the unvaccinated and only made the top 5 (at #5) in people who were fully vaccinated.


Sore Throat

man with sore throat

A sore throat was the #4 most reported symptom among the fully vaccinated, #3 among the partially vaccinated, and #2 among the unvaccinated. 

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woman with lovely long curly hair standing outdoors blowing her nose in an urban square due to a seasonal cold or hay fever

Sneezing was the #3 most reported COVID symptom among the fully vaccinated and #4 in the partially vaccinated group. "Curiously, we noticed that people who had been vaccinated and then tested positive for COVID-19 were more likely to report sneezing as a symptom compared with those without a jab," the researchers say. "If you've been vaccinated and start sneezing a lot without an explanation, you should get a COVID test, especially if you are living or working around people who are at greater risk from the disease."

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Persistent Cough

Sick man holding his chest in pain while coughing in the living room.

A persistent cough was the fifth-most-reported symptom among the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated. But it only ranked #8 among the fully vaccinated—possible evidence that another previous hallmark symptom is becoming less common. Also sliding down the list: Shortness of breath and fever, which are much less frequently reported now than in the pandemic's first waves, the researchers say. Now to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael