Signs Omicron is in Your Body Now, Say Experts
The U.S. is experiencing what's been described as a "tidal wave" of COVID-19 infections, as the super-contagious Delta and Omicron variants overlap on these shores. Delta is considered twice as transmissible as the first version of COVID, and Omicron is considered twice as infectious as that. Naturally, you're probably wondering which symptoms to look for that indicate an Omicron infection. That can be a tricky process. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
These Are the Main Symptoms of Omicron
Dr. Katherine Poehling, a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, told NBC News last week that the primary symptoms of an Omicron infection are:
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Congestion and runny nose
Unlike previous variants, loss of taste and smell seems to be uncommon, she said, noting that reports are anecdotal at this point and it's too early to have conclusive data.
Omicron Symptoms In Country Where It Originated
Omicron was first observed in South Africa. According to that country's biggest private health insurer, South Africans who develop an Omicron infection most often report a scratchy or sore throat, nasal congestion, dry cough, and muscle pain, particularly low back pain.
Symptoms Vary Based on Vaccination Status
But that doesn't mean Omicron is producing "different" symptoms. Vaccines might be responsible.
"The symptoms that we're seeing are not different with Omicron than they were with Delta, than they were with the original," Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago's public health commissioner, told NBC 5 Chicago on Wednesday. "It's just that we are seeing more what we call breakthrough infections. So the vaccines continue to protect, but not as well against infection, although they continue to protect beautifully against severe illness."
People who have breakthrough infections "may only feel like they have a cold," said Arwady. "That's good because they're not getting seriously sick, they're not threatening the healthcare system, but it's certainly of some concern because they do have the potential to transmit to others."
However, unvaccinated people who contract COVID now are reporting similar symptoms to the pandemic's early days. "People who are unvaccinated present in the same way: fevers, cough, chills, shortness of breath," she said.
And Remember: You May Have No Symptoms
For health experts, one of the most frustrating aspects of the COVID pandemic has been that so many infections don't produce symptoms. People can transmit the virus to others around them without even knowing they carry it. That continues to be the case.
Other Common COVID Symptoms
According to the CDC, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
So Is It Omicron?
How do you tell if your throat tickle, cough or headache are a cold or COVID? You really can't, experts say.
Their advice: If you're having any symptoms that are out of the ordinary, get tested for COVID ASAP—even if you've been fully vaccinated or boosted—and isolate until you know the results.
"Even if you think it's just allergies, it would be best for you to go ahead and get a COVID test and make sure you don't have it before you go to work or school or church, because those symptoms can be very mild," said S. Wesley Long, medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist Hospital, last week.
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, 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.