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This is Often the "First Sign" of Omicron Infection

Omicron symptoms to look out for and how to stay safe, according to doctors.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Omicron is everywhere right now and literally everyone is at risk for contracting the virus. As vigilant and cautious as we might be, the possibility of getting the COVID variant is likely according to experts. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last week the variant will "find just about everyone." He reminded people about the importance of getting vaccinated. "Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody," Dr. Fauci told J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Those who have been vaccinated … and boosted would get exposed. Some, maybe a lot of them, will get infected but will very likely, with some exceptions, do reasonably well in the sense of not having hospitalization and death." Eat This, Not That! Health talked with experts who explained the signs of Omicron to watch out for and what precautions to take. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Cough

Young woman sitting alone on her sofa at home and coughing.
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Dr. Kristina Hendija explains, "Like its mother variant, omicron still affects the respiratory tract leading to either productive or non-productive cough. Patients also often complain that they feel that they want to expectorate phlegm but are unable to do so despite coughing repeatedly."

2

Fever

Lady Holding Thermometer Having Fever Measuring Body Temperature Sitting On Sofa At Home
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"The majority of the patients express having bouts of fever although the claim is subjective for most.," says Dr. Hendija. "They often mention experiencing chills and a feverish sensation which only lasts for a day or two."

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3

Fatigue

Man sitting on bed holding his head.
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Dr. Hendija states, "An expected effect whenever there is an infectious process but unlike the previous delta variant, complaints about easy fatigability and weakness is significantly less."

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4

More Symptoms

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Robert G. Lahita MD, Ph.D. ("Dr. Bob"), Director of the Institute for Autoimmune and Rheumatic Disease at Saint Joseph Health and author of Immunity Strong says, "Sore throat, shortness of breath, coughing, congestion, and fever. However, these are all signs of the flu and common cold as well – except for the shortness of breath, which more-so would point to COVID."

The CDC also says:

"People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
This list does not include all possible symptoms."

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5

Omicron is Not the Flu

Doctors and nurses are working on corona virus/covid-19 infected patient in the ICU/ hospital.
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There are many misconceptions that Omicron is like the flu or a seasonal cold, but it's not according to doctors. Dr. Daniel Culver, chair of the Department of Pulmonary Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic told USA TODAY, "The common cold typically causes mild, self-limited symptoms whereas omicron, like other COVID variants, can result in serious or fatal illness."

Jeremy Luban, an infectious disease expert at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, told USA TODAY via email that while vulnerable people can occasionally die from a rhinovirus infection, it is "relatively rare" and the coronavirus is "far more serious and lethal" than the common cold. "While many people can have mild to moderate symptoms when infected with COVID-19, he said more than 800,000 Americans have died due to the virus – and that number is "likely an underestimate of the real lethality of COVID-19." 

The symptoms of Omicron and the flu can be very similar, so how do you know if you have the variant? Dr. Bob says, "The only way to know for sure is to get a test, either rapid antigen or PCR.

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6

Ways to Lower Your Risk of Getting Omicron

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Get Vaccinated

Getting vaxxed and boosted can literally save your life and prevent you from catching a serious case of COVID says Dr. Bob. "Omicron is still infecting people even if they are vaccinated, so it is still spreading. Omicron is a variant that has a lot of mutations. The vaccine does not mean you will never get sick. It is meant to keep you out of the hospital and keep you from dying if you do get the virus." 

Wash Your Hands

Dr. Hendija explains, "COVID can be transmitted in numerous ways, and it is important to be proactive in protecting ourselves. Frequent hand washing, wearing face masks and following recommendations from health authorities are critical to keeping yourself safe."

Boost Your Immune System

According to Dr. Hendija, "COVID is an infectious process, and our immune system is what fights off the virus. Having a stronger immune system by having and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a sure way of protecting yourself and lessening your risk of contracting severe COVID."

So follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted 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.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more