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"Top Delta Symptoms" People Notice First

Knowing these could save your life or the life of a child.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Whatever you thought you knew about the coronavirus after last year has changed. "The Delta variant is different from the original COVID-19 in that it's more transmissible," warns Dr. Lorena Garcia is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the UC Davis School of Medicine and Chair of the Graduate Group in Epidemiology. Read on for the "top symptoms"—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


You May Experience These "Top Symptoms"

Young woman falling asleep in bed with drink in hand

One study out of Britain, the Zoe Symptom Study, "suggests that there are actually many symptoms, probably about 20 symptoms, including, for example, unusual tiredness, headaches, sore throat, runny nose, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and their importance, for example, has changed over time," says Dr. Kathrina Crystalis, Clinical Director at GPDQ. "So the symptoms vary according to whether you are fully vaccinated, unvaccinated, or whether you've had one dose, but in general, the top symptoms at the moment include a headache, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, cough, fever, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Those three symptoms that have been drilled into us—the cough, fever, and a change in your sense of smell or taste—are not the top symptoms anymore. According to this study, the top symptoms would be headaches or throat runny nose and sneezing."


You May Have Some Respiratory Trouble

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"Many of the symptoms are similar to the symptoms that we've had before, which is still a lot of respiratory—runny nose, cough, fever, things like that," says Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic Children's. "There are some reports that loss of smell is a little bit more common than this Delta variant…but most people are still [having] runny nose, cough, fever, shakes, chills."


You May Have Some Gastro Issues

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

"Many children will still have a little more GI upset, a little more nausea and vomiting," says Dr. Esper. "I am seeing much more gastrointestinal involvement," Dr. Leslie Diaz, an infectious disease expert, told WPTV. "Not that we didn't see it before with our beginning strains, but here we are with the delta and I see more GI issues of diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea—a lot of nausea, too."

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If Vaccinated, You Can Still Catch COVID and Have These Symptoms

Ill woman coughing at bed.

Breakthrough infections, although called rare by experts, can happen, and most often lead to symptoms that aren't too problematic—you might feel like you have a cold. If this happens, don't brush it off. You want to know if you have COVID because you can spread COVID. "That is of high concern," says Dr. Garcia. "We're thinking about our own health, but we also have to think about our community, those individuals that are close to us, our family, our friends, our community, our neighbors, those individuals may have underlying medical conditions that they are aware of. And there are also individuals that may have underlying medical conditions that they are not aware of."

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What to Do if You Have Delta Symptoms

Healthcare worker with protective equipment performs coronavirus swab on a woman.

"If you have the symptoms—the cough fever or a changed sense of smell or taste, we know what to do. We can isolate, we can get a PCR test. And we've been very good at doing that so far. So if the question is, if you have the other symptoms." Cold-like symptoms, for example? "If you're unsure, just speak with a healthcare provider. It's much, much better just to ask if you're unsure rather than going to work and possibly risking other people in your workforce."

RELATED: The One Sure Sign You Already Had Delta


How to End This Pandemic Once and For All

Young woman taking a vaccine from her doctor.

Get vaccinated or this thing will never get under control. "Variants are really smart and they try to survive and they evolve," says Dr. Garcia. "That's why the vaccination is so important because we do want to prevent new variants that get smarter. Vaccinations will slow down the propagation of new variants. What we do not want to see is a variant that is highly virulent. That would cause a severe disease, hospitalization, and death for some communities, in particular, rural and semi-rural that do not have easy access to clinics, medical hospitals that have the resources to take on and treat the patients. These are the communities that we really need to worry about." 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