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Signs You Have COVID-19, According to New Data

The Delta variant means people who may have never gotten COVID have it now. Here are the signs.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Coronavirus symptoms remain the same as ever—however, the new Delta variant is changing up the order of which are most common, according to data from the Zoe COVID Symptom Study. "Fewer symptoms were reported over a shorter period of time by those who had already had a" vaccine, says the report, "suggesting that they were falling less seriously ill and getting better more quickly," according to the study. So what were the top 5 symptoms of the new COVID variant? Read on for all 5—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


You May Have a Headache

Portrait of female doctor suffering from headache in clinic

COVID-19 is a repertory-borne illness, but that doesn't mean it infects only your lungs. In fact, many victims—from Delta or otherwise—experience severe inflammation and neurological conditions, resulting in a headache or migraine. No surprise then it's the #1 most commonly reported symptom according to the study. The researchers have found "a COVID headache to:

  • Be moderately to severely painful
  • Feel 'pulsing', 'pressing' or 'stabbing'
  • Occur across both sides of the head (bilateral) rather than in one area
  • Last for more than three days
  • Be resistant to regular painkillers"


You May Have a Runny Nose


"In the early days of the pandemic, it was thought that having a runny nose was not a symptom of COVID-19, and was much more likely to be a sign of a regular cold," say the researchers. "However, data from the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app suggests that having a runny nose can be a sign of COVID-19." They add: "The likelihood that your runny nose is caused by COVID-19 is influenced by how prevalent the disease is at the time."


You Might Sneeze

Man sneezing into his elbow.

"Sneezing is not normally a symptom of COVID-19, and much more likely to be a sign of a regular cold or allergy," caution the researchers. "Even though many people with COVID-19 might sneeze, it's not a definitive symptom because sneezing is so common, especially in the warmer months where people might experience hay fever.  However, data from the ZOE COVID Study suggests that sneezing more than usual can be a sign of COVID-19 but only in people who've been vaccinated."

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You May Have a Sore Throat

Woman checks the thyroid gland with her hands, keeps her palms on the neck.

A classic symptom of COVID-19, a sore throat remains one given the Delta variant. "We have to be very vigilant with cold symptoms," says Brian Curtis, MD, vice president of Clinical Specialty Services for OSF HealthCare. "We as a society used to be kind of dismissive of cold symptoms, but we can't be dismissive of them now. If you have just a sore throat with no other symptoms, it's less likely to be COVID-19. But with other symptoms, it is possible you have COVID. Sore throat, cough, fever – I would be worried about COVID."

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You Might Have a Loss of Smell

Man taking off face mask for smelling lemon

A hallmark symptom of the original strain of COVId-19, a loss of smell remains, just not as dominant, says the study. "Anosmia is one of the commonest symptoms of COVID-19, affecting an average of six in ten (60%) adults aged 16-65 at some point in their illness. It is less common for children (35%) and affects around half of adults over 65 with COVID-19," they write. "Data from the ZOE COVID Symptom Study shows that loss of smell is the most predictive symptom of having a positive test for COVID-19." If you have this symptom, or any of these—

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste 
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

—get tested ASAP or talk to your doctor. And to protect your life and the lives of others, with Delta rising, use caution in 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