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Omicron "Most Often" Feels Like This

What to know about Omicron.

As we continue to hunker down and try to avoid catching Omicron, the COVID variant is proving to be stubborn and not going away anytime soon. Everyone is at risk for the virus, including people who are vaccinated, according to experts, but those who are unvaxxed will experience a more severe case. Eat This, Not That! Health talked with Erica Susky, an Infection Control Practitioner (ICP) in hospital epidemiology who explains what it's like to have Omicron and how effective the vaccine is against the variant. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


How Do People with Omicron Feel?

Sick woman laying in bed under wool blanket holding thermometer and tissue. Ill girl caught cold flu. Pills and tablets on table.

Susky says, "People infected with the Omicron Variant of Concern (VOC) would feel the same sort of symptoms as with any prior strain of SARS-CoV-2. This ranges from asymptomatic and mild infections all the way to serious and fatal infections where people need care in the ICU (require mechanical ventilation)." That said, there are symptoms Omicron patients complain about the most.


Omicron Symptoms People Complain About the Most


According to Susky, "People with Omicron complain of cold and flu-like symptoms. This would include a sore throat, fever, headache, cough, sniffles, body aches, and fatigue. Less commonly known symptoms of respiratory viral infections such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain also occur quite often with COVID-19." 

Adds the CDC: "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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How Effective is the Vaccine Against Omicron?

Doctor holding syringe in hospital.

"Getting a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine is still helpful in preventing the acquisition of COVID-19 and, if one still gets infected, the vaccine helps to prevent severe COVID-19 symptoms from the Omicron VOC," Susky states. "What is known is that those who have had their second dose of vaccine display a much lower vaccine effectiveness to the Omicron VOC compared to other SARS-CoV-2 strains (1). Therefore, though there may be milder illness in some cases of Omicron in the cohort having received two doses of vaccine, it may not be as rare as it was with the Delta VOC. The chances of getting severe COVID-19 with the Omicron VOC have increased in the cohort with two doses of vaccine." 

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Who is at Risk for Getting Omicron

Focused woman taking off face mask while choosing fruits in grocery store.

Susky says, "All are at risk as the Omicron VOC is very transmissible and can infect people that have had COVID-19 in prior waves. The risk increases if one attends large gatherings where people do not wear masks or ventilation is poor. People who have not had a full course of COVID-19 vaccine (for example three doses of the mRNA vaccine) are at a greater risk of acquiring and having COVID-19 become severe." 

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What We Don't Know About Omicron, But Should?

Doctor with blood sample of Covid-19 Omicron B.1.1.529 Variant and general data of covid-19 Coronavirus Mutations.

"As it is a challenge in many areas to get testing to confirm SARS-CoV-2, if one feels any cold or flu-like illness at this time it is safe to assume they have Omicron," explains. " The vast majority of viruses circulating now are Omicron. One should stay at home for the full duration of one's quarantine. If one can get a rapid antigen test, if the test is negative and one is having symptoms they should also stay at home. The rapid antigen test is a simple way to confirm one has COVID-19 (specific and positives are accurate), but false negatives do occur with this test." 

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How to Stay Safe Out There

A mid adult woman protects herself by placing an N95 face mask over her nose and mouth.

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 about Heather